Top Chef, Old Master
January 7, 2014 4:15 PM   Subscribe

"If there is an assassination planned for the meal, then it is seemliest that the assassin should be seated next to he who is to become the subject of his craft" - Leonardo da Vinci: head of the kitchen, designer of horse-pulled nut-crushers, inventor of napkins, and assassination etiquette expert.
posted by The Whelk (20 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

This is a brilliant satire.

Oh wait, it's not satire?
posted by larrybob at 4:49 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

this has something to do with Hannibal doesn't it.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:50 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I want to know more about the bee-powered machine.
posted by squinty at 4:51 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]

The notes on table etiquette imply Leonardo had been personally witness to some behavior that went well beyond faux pas.
posted by figurant at 4:51 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

Every kitchen task could be mechanized—crushing garlic, pulling spaghetti, plucking ducks, cutting a pig into cubes [...] Leonardo was constantly frustrated with powering them. “But how shall I work them? By wind or by water? By cogs and by cranks? By oxen or by peasant-power?” One machine was intended to be operated by bees.
This is like when I imagine myself marooned in the past, trying to mechanize the drudgery with waterwheels.
posted by postcommunism at 4:52 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]

Peasant-power(tm): it's free, there's plenty of it and it's carbon-neutral!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:54 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]

Another book on the subject: Da Vinci's Kitchen: A Secret History of Italian Cuisine
posted by larrybob at 5:19 PM on January 7

This is like when I imagine myself marooned in the past, trying to mechanize the drudgery with waterwheels.

I do that, too. But then I remember I need my fleet of tame mice who pretend to my immune system that they're human and give me antibodies from their spleens.

And suddenly a bee powered latte frother seems downright prosaic.
posted by ambrosen at 5:21 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

I wonder if the snakes on the table spooked the napkin-rabbits
posted by The Whelk at 5:38 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I want to see the designs for the rabbit launderette.
posted by arcticseal at 5:51 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

Interesting comments in the original link:

Two clarifications I can see:
- the painting actually hangs in the Uffizi, according to Wikipedia at least.
- polenta did not exist in 1473, at least not as cornmeal. Corn wasn't introduced into the new world yet. Polenta would have been made with farro, chestnut, millet, spelt, or chickpeas.

Good point.

I wonder if Leonardo's notebooks would make for a good reading. I'm assuming some the above article must be reflecting Leonardo's own satire.
posted by Telf at 6:16 PM on January 7

The thing that gave it away for me was the drawing of the flying machine labeled as a drawing of a human-powered whisk.
posted by larrybob at 6:21 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]

I think the satire actually arises from Shelagh Routh and Jonathan Routh, "editors" of the book referenced in the article, Leonardo's Kitchen Notebooks: Leonardo da Vinci's notes on cookery and table etiquette. As is pointed out in this Spanish-language article "La falsa cocina de Leonardo Da Vinci" on the book, the original publication date was April 1, 1987 (as noted in the Amazon link from the Laphams article.) The writer of the Spanish article points out that the "Codex Romanoff", which the Rouths say is the source of their book, does not exist in the collection of the Hermitage.

A British rare book catalog notes "Here it should be remembered that Jonathan Routh co-starred for many years in the television series Candid Camera and with Germaine Greer and Kenny Everett in Nice Time. He also wrote a series of Good Loo Guides and, in 1984, Jamaica Holiday: The Secret Life of Queen Victoria and that this item is no more than an elaborate spoof. It has received cult status in the USA where it fetches prices in the hundreds of dollars." (hyperlink mine.)

However, maybe if someone starts editing Wikipedia rapidly enough, supposed facts such as that Leonardo and Botticelli operated a restaurant called The Three Frogs may be enshrined.
posted by larrybob at 6:46 PM on January 7

Leonardo da Vinci: in another century, he could have been the next Chef Boyardee.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:57 PM on January 7

Previously, Jonathan Routh children's book The Nuns Go to Penguin Island, which I assume is an Anatole France shout-out.
posted by larrybob at 7:38 PM on January 7

Reminds me of Lord Vetinari's Recipe for Bread and Water, found in Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. It describes a method for making sure there's no poison in quite some detail, then finally shows how even that's inadequate, and that the proper way to prevent assassination is to govern in such a way that your death would be worse for everybody's ambitions.
posted by kmz at 7:45 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

on the leonardo da vinci wikipedia page we have this sentence:

In Cesena, in 1502 Leonardo entered the service of Cesare Borgia

I think it's pretty safe to assume Leo was familiar with murder, assassination, poison.
posted by bukvich at 8:31 PM on January 7

One machine was intended to be operated by bees.

posted by Strange Interlude at 5:17 AM on January 8

Just an FYI, doing a GIS on "leonardo da vinci assassins" is likely to bring up this version of him in romantic interludes with his in-game BFF.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:33 AM on January 8

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