Venice has always been a culinary melting pot, with a lot of experience in cooking with exotic yet healthy ingredients. What happened then …
95% of the thousand-year old know-how on food and cooking, healthy recipes based on herbs and spices has been relegated to libraries: There are thousands of books in convents, public libraries (Archivio di Stato, for example) and private libraries. Can we benefit from this unique know-how in our times?
I practically grew up with grandmother’s library, in the little Venetian red house she had bought in 1968. Old books that also included simple recipes, healthy, and delicious. Recipes written 100 years ago and older, a fantastic bridge to the forgotten know-how of the Venetian spice merchants and pharmacies of times long gone. Those spice masters called spezieri, who collected, assembled and built on unique knowledge from the Levant.
The libarary also houses books written in a mixture of Latin and Venet, in Greek, and even in German! Until now, we did find a few favorite recipes, such as the calissoni di San Zaccaria, the ancient Easter sweets made by the nuns, and torta greca, so popular in Venice until the 18th century, and which you can still find – in three variations – in a few Venetian bakeries and pastry stores.
The callisons of San Zaccaria, and its orange blossom-flavored variant will go into our garden book, an e-publication available in early summer 2022. Sign up here to keep in touch and be notified when it’s available!