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

Just as La Varenne will do after him in Le Cuisinier François, Magirus employs a clear programmatic order in presenting his recipes. He disregards the ordering of Scappi’s Opera. He opts instead to order the recipes in the same manner as a typical middle class meal in the Low Countries in the seventeenth century. Such meals typically started with salad and continued with soup and pies. The main course consisted of meat dishes. On special occasions and in the bigger households this was followed by a poultry or fish course. The meal was concluded with fruit, deserts, cheeses and sweet, spiced wine (hippocras).
Magirus starts his cookery-book with a chapter on provisions, in which he mentions the Netherlands custom to start the meal with salad1. This is followed by chapters on soups – which he calls “the most important of the meal … because they are most nourishing”2 – and sauces. After that the meat recipes follow, ordered not only in the manner they are prepared, but also following the preferences of the author. Magirus mentions that cooked meats are healthier, “following our Netherlands custom … that you first have to eat foods that desire little digestion”3. Cooked meats are followed by roasted ones. In his introduction to this part of his cookery-book Magirus mentions that the people in the Low Countries prefer roasted meats to cooked ones, not withstanding the fact that the latter are healthier4.
He follows this with recipes for stewed and fried meats. Of fried meats, especially capon, Magirus explicitly states that frying is his least preferred method of preparing them: “I prefer cooked or roasted [capon] … I do not fry a lot, but you readers may do as you wish.”5
After the meat recipes Magirus gives recipes for “all manners of baking”. He states that he has written his cookery-book especially to show how tasty and easy pancakes and tarts are to prepare and how little they cost6. This is followed by recipes for “all manners of pies”7 and a few fish recipes, which clearly is not the favourite part of his book, because the author finds fish “slimy”8 and unhealthy. The Koocboec is concluded by a short chapter on deserts, which does not contain any recipes but makes mention of different foodstuffs that were traditionally eaten at the conclusion of the meal.
Magirus reorders the recipes of the Opera to fit the program of his Koocboec. He also summarizes the recipes for dough and fillings and refers to these summaries in stead of repeating the same instructions over and over again as Scappi does. The Koocboec is not a (partial) copy, but very much an edited and simplified version of the Opera.

  1. Ibid., 4. []
  2. p. 12 []
  3. p. 37 []
  4. p. 50 []
  5. “Hier mede sal ic wt het fruyten scheyden, want om de waerheyt te segghen, ic etese liever gesoden oft gebraden … Ic en fruyte niet vele, niet te min gylieden moocht uwen sinn doen.” Ibid., 82-83. []
  6. p. 83 []
  7. p. 123 []
  8. p. 135 []

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