Antonio Latini

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Portrait of Antonio Latini

Antonio Latini (1642–1692) was a steward of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, cardinal-nephew of Pope Urban VIII in Rome and subsequently to Don Stefano Carillo Salcedo, first minister to the Spanish viceroy of Naples.


Born in Collamato,[1] now a frazione of the town of Fabriano, in the province of Ancona, his cookbook, Lo scalco alla moderna "the Modern Steward", (Naples, vol. I 1692, vol. II 1694),[2] contains in its first volume the (surprisingly late)[3] earliest surviving recipes for tomato sauce,[4] though he did not suggest serving it over pasta. One of his tomato recipes is for sauce alla spagnuola, "in the Spanish style".[5] In his second volume Latini gives early recipes for sorbetti.[6]

Latini had gone to Rome at the age of sixteen, and worked his way up in the familia or household of Cardinal Barberini. By turns assistant cook, waiter and wardrobe attendant, he learned the theatrical carving skills expected of a maître d'hôtel and swordsmanship as well.[7] Mastering the arts of successively important stewardship positions, he was made a Roman conte, a "Knight of the Golden Spur" for his service. After working in Rome and at courts in Macerata, Mirandola and Faenza, Latini went to serve as scalco, or household steward, to Carillo Salcedo in 1682.

In Naples Latini cast his net widely for the best products of the Kingdom of Naples for Don Stefano's table. In Lo scalco moderna a brief description of the Regno listed fruits and local specialties in melons and game, oil and olives, vegetables and salads of "rare quality", drawn from Latini's professional experience from 25 locales, none of them as far afield as Sicily, in fact mostly within a days journey of Naples: Poggio Reale, Chiaja, colline di Posillipo, Pozzuoli, Procida, Ischia, Capri, Sorrento, Vico, Castell'a mare di Stabbia, Torre del Greco, Granatiello, Monte di Somma, Orta, Nola, Aversa, Cardito, Arienzo, Acerra, Giugliano, Capua, Gaeta, Venafro, Sora, Isola di Sora.[8]

Latini's manuscript autobiography, not included in Lo scalco moderna, brings his personal career to light by sharing details of a kitchen career that had hitherto been unheard-of when they were first described in print by French gastronomist Marie-Antoine Carême. A transcription that was made in 1690 was discovered in the city library of Fabriano and published by Furio Liccichenti.[9]


  1. ^ Alberto Capatti, Massimo Montanari, Áine O'Healy, Italian cuisine: a cultural history, 2003;Jeri Quinzio, Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making, ch. "Early Ices and Ice Cream".
  2. ^ Lo scalco alla moderna was reprinted in the series Bibliotheca culinaria in 1993.
  3. ^ Alan Davidson, "Europeans' Wary Encounter with Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Other New World Foods" in Chilies to Chocolate: Food the Americas Gave the World, (University of Arizona Press) 1992.
  4. ^ Elizabeth David, Italian Food (1954, 1999), p 319, and John Dickie, Delizia! The Epic History of the Italians and Their Food, 2008, p. 162.
  5. ^ Compare sauce espanole of French cuisine.
  6. ^ David 1999.
  7. ^ Jeri Quinzio, Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making, ch. " "Early Ices and Ice Cream".
  8. ^ "Breve descrizione del regno di Napoli In ordine alle cose comestibili di frutti, e d'altro, che si producono specialmente, e di rara qualità, in diversi luoghi del medesimo Regno, secondo che riferiscono diversi autori, e che viene comprobato dall'uso e dall'isperienza" noted by culinary historian Alberto Capatti in I Prodotti tipici nella definizione storica Italiana e nelle denominazioni europee (on-line text).
  9. ^ Noted in Capatti et al. 2003 pp 213-15.