Michaelangelo's Grocery List.
December 27, 2013 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Michelangelo's Grocery List : written for an illiterate servant.
posted by sonika (17 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I love this! Thank you so much for posting.
posted by angiep at 8:41 PM on December 27, 2013

Bella, but this makes me want to see LdV's list so much.
posted by vers at 9:27 PM on December 27, 2013

Cool. I do the same when I'm working on a home repair and need to figure out what items I need from the hardware store.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:42 PM on December 27, 2013

Is there a full translation anywhere? The bottom of the article has a herring, tortelli, two fennel soups, four anchovies and ‘a small quarter of a rough wine'

But it looks like there's other things on the list. Can anyone help me out?
posted by ninazer0 at 1:36 AM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

ninazer0, they've got it mostly figured out on reddit, but here's my attempt, based half on renaissance paleography training and half on his adorable little pictures. Disclaimer: Italian is not my strongest reading language.

pani dua (two loaves of bread)
un bochal di vino (a bottle of wine)
una aringa (a herring;a line like that over a letter or word stands in for an unwritten "n" or "m")
tortegli (tortelli)

una salata (a salad)
quatro pani (four loaves of bread)
un bochal di tondo (a bottle of tondo, or full 'rotund' wine)
e un quartuccio di bruscho (and a little quarter of 'brusque' - I'm guessing dry or strong - wine; hence his two wine jugs, one big and one small.)
un piattello di spinaci (a plate of spinach)
quatro alice (four anchovies)
tortelli (uh, tortelli)

sei pani (six loaves of bread)
due minestre di fino chio (two things of fennel soup)
una aringa (a herring)
un bochal di tondo (a bottle of tondo).

It looks like the piece of paper was a letter that Michelangelo had received; the letter itself is written on the other side, then folded up. If you look at the upside-down writing below that last drawing of a jug of wine, that second word is Michelangelo, though I've not yet had enough coffee to make out the rest.
posted by amy lecteur at 2:47 AM on December 28, 2013 [13 favorites]

regarding the wine, brusco is likely young white wine, whereas tondo is likely to mean dry (and probably red). (source;source)
posted by progosk at 4:55 AM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Awesome, progosk! Thanks!
posted by amy lecteur at 5:53 AM on December 28, 2013

There's a passage in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale where the protagonist goes to the market. They use tokens with images of poultry and milk and vegetables on them and each market stall has hanging images of the same. The handmaids can read; they're just not allowed to.

This is interesting for its artistic and historical value, but I still find it sad.
posted by headnsouth at 6:17 AM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Michelangelo used emoji!
posted by oceanjesse at 6:33 AM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

This thread made my morning.
posted by maryr at 7:13 AM on December 28, 2013

Related: Albrecht Durer's Self Portrait During Illness, which he sent to his doctor in the hopes of receiving a diagnosis.
posted by mani at 9:27 AM on December 28, 2013 [8 favorites]

Oh and: given all the prepared dishes on the lists, he's most likely ordering these up from his local osteria (as opposed to a market or shop), so it's really more of a dinner order than a grocery list. Which would also explain why he's keeping them on the same page: so as to keep track of what he owes his oste.
posted by progosk at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Amazing. This is why I love Metafilter...
posted by Jubey at 2:03 PM on December 28, 2013

That's great, amy lecteur and progosk! I did assume he was buying stuff ready-made from the "fennel soups" thing at the bottom of the OP. I'm a little confused why he's buying two lots of things (two separate lots of bread, two lots of tortelli) but I'm assuming that the wine has different varieties so the bread and tortelli may be from different bakers/makers.

Anyway, this sort of thing is just one of the reasons I love Metafilter so much!
posted by ninazer0 at 2:19 PM on December 28, 2013

I'm a little confused why he's buying two lots of things

My take is that it's a list of various meals from separate days (separated by the horizontal lines). The more I look at it, the more it seems like a list after the fact, as a memo of what he ordered, rather than an actual order slip, though still with the same purpose: in order to remember what he stood to pay the tavern providing the food.
As to the drawings, to be honest, I'm still not too convinced of why he'd have drawn all the items. The way they're not aligned to the written items they're representing is surely an indication they were drawn after the fact, once the list was all written; and, as opposed to the three separate meals listed, they look drawn all in one go. Might the great Michelangelo... just have been doodling?
posted by progosk at 3:21 PM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

"OK, he wants me to get, let's see... some round things, a pitcher, a rat, more round things, a bowl of grass, more round things, more pitchers..."
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:08 PM on December 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Just some more context: he was somewhere on the Tuscan coast (on an unsuccessful mission in 1518 to source the marble for the facade of San Lorenzo), when he wrote this note on the back of a business letter that the Medici's agent, Bernardo Niccolini, had sent him. According to Martin Gayford, his likely dining companion was his assistant, Pietro Urbano.

Still trying to figure out the tortegli/tortelli - the drawing's not really readily recognisable...
posted by progosk at 3:35 AM on December 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

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