Equestrian statue of Ranuccio Farnese by Francesco Mochi, in Piazza Cavalli, Piacenza
Everyone can feast on Italy’s al fresco banquet for the soul
In Italy, art is definitely not confined to the museums and the churches. It is everywhere. A house opposite the church od Sant’Eustachio in Rome, more or less round the corner from the Pantheon, in the very heart of the city, still retains quite substantial elements of the frescos applied to its façade by Taddeo Zuccaro in the second half of the sixteenth century.
Most of the al fresco art that surrounds one is sculpture. In our health and safety/conservation-fixated age, the idea of masterpiece taking their chance in the open may indeed seem foolhardy, but the fact is that they have survived remarkably well over the centuries. It is true that three pieces were broken off the left arm of Michelangelo’s David during an anti-Medicean rebellion in Florence in 1527, and rescued by two young artists, Giorgio Vasari – of Lives of the Artists fame – and his friend Francesco Salviati. More generally, however, the sheer weight of large-scale marbles and bronzes means they are hardly likely to be pinched by even the most determined thieves. On the contrary, the most common reason for any such disappearances is a forgivable desire to protect such works from the elements.
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In our past Inform Cooks posts, we’ve done our best to provide you with simple recipes that we adore. In this instalment, we’ve upped our game with the help of a heavy-hitter. Chef Reuben Major is a long time contributor to the local culinary scene and most recently Co-Founder and Culinary Director for Vital Supply Co. He came to us well equipped with his tools, ingredients and values, and effortlessly assembled a top-notch dish that left us salivating for more. We usually provide our guest chefs and cooks with pots, pans and other tools that we carry in-store but on this occasion there was no need. Chef Major’s brought his personal pots and pans which he brought with him were the Demeyere collection designed by John Pawson. Though Chef Major has been using them tirelessly for a decade, which is apparent from the patina, the cookware has perfectly retained it’s form, appeal and cooking power. How many sets of pots have you purchased in the past 10 years?
Chef Major’s culinary prowess was ingrained in him from a young age. As a boy, he would pick his own ingredients from the garden, construct dishes and feed the family without thinking much of it. Food, after all, is a necessity that everyone must take part in. The process felt natural to him. After moving to the city and getting a job at Earl’s as a busboy, he worked his way into the kitchen and up the culinary hierarchy eventually serving as director of culinary and bar development, a position he held for six years. It was then time to explore new paths, develop his breadth of skills and seek out new challenges.
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