Yesterday I cooked for a benefit, directly from Scappi's Opera. Pictured here is the first cold antipasti course, a not untypical 16th c. starter: my olives and salami, a fennel salad, and my first mozarella (made from raw milk). I saw someone doing the whole pasta filata trick and thought, I can do that. My hands are still tingling - ouch. It went with my sourdough nicely. The second course was a minestra di foglie di rape (II:205) followed by a charming subtlety of sausages made from trout (III:153). The process was wacky, chopped trout into casings, poached in red wine, smoked for an hour and finally sauteed. They looked exactly like pork sausages, so I served them with my fresh sauerkraut and a pickled lady apple. I think Scappi would have approved the nod northward. The main course was a petto della Vitella mongana (II:34) braised in a clay pot in the oven for about 8 hours with prunes, cherries and a riot of spices. It was dizzyingly unctuous and went so well on bright yellow saffron and rose scented rice. A simpler apple pie to end. In all not a very expensive meal, but in terms of man-hours, an absurdity. Scappi had an army of cooks in the Papal kitchens and we are beginning to understand why.