A Dutch translation of Bartolomeo Scappi’s Opera (1612)

Immediately we are confronted with problems of chronology. It may well be that Scholiers got to know the Opera during his travels in Italy, but this was after he supposedly wrote the Koocboec! The author of the Koocboec mentions that it is based on “24 years of experience” (… want heb het 24. iaren met experientie bevonden …)1. This seems at least strange. Either the author meant he was twenty-four years old when he wrote the book or – and this seems to us the preferable explanation – he had twenty-four years experience as a cook or a gourmet when he wrote it.
If the first explanation is to be believed the authorship of Scholiers becomes problematic, because he was 29 and not 24 years old when the Koocboec was first printed. If we believe the second explanation, then the authorship of Scholiers is even more problematic, because he was much too young to have “24. iaren met experientie” when the Koocboec was first printed. Other internal references in the text of the Koocboec lead us to believe the author was not a young person, but probably middle aged or even older. He probably was not a professional cook, but he was a gourmet and had at least one servant, because he mentions that he likes his poached eggs “brought to me on a stove” (… ende doense my brenghen op een coffoor)2.
To summarize, we believe the author of the Koocboec was born somewhere between 1567 and 1572 under the name of Antoon (De) Cock or Kok in a well to do Brabant burgher family. If our hypothesis is right, Scholiers cannot have been the author, since he was born in 1582. The identification of Magirus as Scholiers is in any case not contemporary. The only contemporary mention of the Koocboec we could find is in a work by the famous Dutch poet and grand pensionary of Holland Jacob Cats (1577-1660) who writes about “the kitchen book recently published by Anthonis Magyrus” (het Keuckenboeck onlangs uytgegeven by Anthonis Magyrus)3. Cats makes no mention of Scholiers and does not imply “Magyrus” is a pseudonym.

  1. Magirus (1612: 3v). []
  2. “Hoe ik de eieren die ik voor mij laat koken het allerliefste eet” (How I prefer to eat the eggs I have cooked for me), Ibid., 24-27. This passage is not in Scappi (Ibid., 159r-159v, 3-CCLXVIII), from whom Magirus translates the recipe “Per cuocere l’uovo sparso in acqua semplice”. Magirus splits Scappi’s recipe in two seperate recipes: “Hoemen Eyeren int Water doppen sal” (How to poach eggs in water) and “Hoemen gedopte Eyeren goet eten sal” (How to best eat poached eggs). []
  3. Cats, Jacob [1655] Alle de wercken van den Heere … 2 vols. Amsterdam and The Hague, 1726, 1, 352b. []

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