By Ippolita Douglas Scotti:
Today, I’d love to share an ancient recipe. It is easy and has all the Renaissance flavors of herbs, nuts, and spices. I found it in a very precious book, the first cookbook ever printed:
De honesta voluptate et valetudine ("On Honest Indulgence and Good Health," often shortened to De honesta voluptate).
Written in 1465 by a neoplatonic philosopher named Bartolomeo Sacchi (nickname “Platina” because of his platinum blond hair), the book first appeared between 1470 and 1475 in Rome and in 1475 in Venice. Platina was in Florence, too, talking about philosophy and good food in the Medicis’ villa of Careggi up in the hills, where there was the Neoplatonic Florentine Academy.
The original recipe calls for wild fennel (though you can also use fennel you find in the market). If you can't find it, substitute with more fennel seeds.
Are you ready to jump into the past? It's time to make this fresh, healthy recipe full of spices!
Pollo col Finocchietto Selvatico
(Chicken with Wild Fennel)
1 chicken breast cut into cubes
2 oz (30 g) peeled almonds
1 Tbs fennel seeds
Bunch of fresh wild fennel
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon
2 cm fresh ginger
Salt and pepper
Extra-Virgin Olive oil
Sauté chicken in a pan with olive oil.
As it is cooking, make a paste by using a pestle to crush the spices with almonds and wild fennel.
When the meat is golden, spoon the spice and fennel mixture on top of the chicken and serve! Easy and very good!
Contessa Ippolita Douglas Scotti di Vigileno is a true Italian—born in Florence, Italy, from a long line of eccentric Italian aristocrats, she has traveled the world in search of adventure, romance, and magical, mouth-watering recipes. "Ippo" loves Italian history, especially as it relates to food. Author of There's a Beatle in My Soup, Curcuma e Zenzero (Ginger & Tumeric), 101 Perche Sulla Storia di Firenze (101 questions on Florence History), The Grimore, The Magic of the Moon, and Magic Herbs (all published by Newton Compton Publishers).