Buon Appetito, Your Holiness The Secrets of the Papal Table by Mariangela Rinaldi and Mariangela Vincini

364 pages; No Photography
Arcade Publishing, New York, 2000
Reviewed by Nancy Hurley for Good Cooking
November, 2001

Buon Appetito, Your Holiness Buon Appetito, Your Holiness invites readers to travel through history and discover the culinary world of the papacy. From the humble foods of the first pope, Peter, to the Polish dishes of John Paul II's homeland, this book offers a wide variety of recipes for the reader to prepare and enjoy. Each chapter is dedicated to one pope and his, or in one case her, association with the foods that graced the papal table.

Gathered from historical accounts and folklore, the recipes vary from descriptions of food preparations to modern interpretations of ancient European dishes. The recipes are, for the most part, easy to follow. Readers will enjoy the luscious Avignon-style cream of chicken soup, a simple but rich dish from the 12th century. From Spain, Council eggs offer a twist on the usual sausage and egg breakfast. Bocconotti, a kind of sweet ravioli, can be enjoyed today as it was at the carnivals of 13th century Rome. The more ambitious and resourceful cook may want to attempt the roast peacock, reassembled and dressed in its own plumage!

This book also contains descriptions of the various wines and spirits that have appeared on the papal table. The reader will discover the origin of the noble French wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which was linked to the 12th century pope, Clement VI. The simple recipe for aphrodisiac horseradish liqueur, associated with the fabled Pope Joan, will surely invigorate any palate.

There are over 100 recipes that offer a glimpse into the ancient and modern world of the Holy Fathers, so sit back, pour a glass of Pinot di Franciacorta Spumante and discover the secrets of the Papal Table. Good Cooking likes to read historic recipes. Often we find similar ingredients and procedures that laid the ground work for today's cuisine. Some recipes even withstand the test of time, such as the recipe for Cream of Chicken Soup! Clement VI Pierre Roger 1342-1352

Avignon-Style Cream of Chicken Soup

It is often the case that good recipes travel with the gourmets who prize them. This is true of a soup that the Tarlatis, bishops from Arezzo, for obvious reasons frequent travelers to Avignon, brought to the attention of the refined pontifical tastebuds. Hearty yet delicate, in Arezzo it was known simply as "chicken soup." This soup came back to Italy in a revised form, softened and flavored by chefs from the papal court, with the high-flown name "Avignon-style cream of chicken soup," though in France it began, and to this day remains, "creme de volaille."
Here is the recipe, hot from the kitchens of the Avignon pontiffs.

for 6

1 small chicken weighing roughly 3 pounds
ingredients for stock (onion, carrot and celery, salt, pepper, a pinch of cinnamon)
4 cups buttery white sauce
1 small clove garlic, chopped butter
olive oil
cheese for sprinkling

Boil the chicken in water with the ingredients for the stock plus salt (for a stronger flavor, stud the onion with cloves and then enclose in muslin) until it is well cooked and the meat begins to come away from the bones. Remove all the meat and chop, then remove the celery and carrot and chop. Sieve the chicken broth well and reserve. Put butter and a drop of oil in a pan with the celery, carrot and garlic and flavor the meat. Blend the white sauce with the chicken broth, and add to this cream the flavored chicken meat, bring to the boil, check the seasoning, and then flavor with a pinch of nutmeg. Allow the cream to thicken and serve piping hot with a little cheese sprinkled on top, and slices of toast.

In true French fashion, for elegant luncheons you can follow this with sponge cake and mini-profiteroles.