Giuseppe Verdi loved to eat well.
Even when he became famous all around the world, he was still a farmer of the lowlands, as he would define himself.
The rural soul of the opera composer would show in his choosing what to eat.
He was not gluttonous, but a gastronome of simple taste.
He loved the cuisine and products of his native land to the point of taking them with him in his journeys.
When he set off for Saint Petersburg for the première of “Force of Destiny”, in 1861, he ordered a shipment for rice, macaroni, cheese and cured meats, a hundred small bottles of Bordeaux for his meals, twenty bottles of superior Bordeaux and twenty of Champagne.
Unfortunately, the Bordeaux and the Champagne couldn’t face the cold and they reached the destination completely wrecked.
In the villa of Sant’Agata he and his wife would often invite friends to savour genuine recipes of Emilian cuisine. As a matter of fact, he would rather eat simple and traditional food to those elaborate and refined found in the restaurants he had to attend to for work.
At home Giuseppe and Giuseppina Verdi would never be out of: Tuscan hill oil, preferred to that of Liguria, where the couple would spend the winter, Chianti, shipped in little wicker wine bottles by the hotel manager of Montecatini, where they were hosted for twenty years during their thermal holidays, and Neapolitan pasta, especially macaroni, whose provider was their friend Cesare de Sanctis.
As a true Emilian, Verdi would appreciate cured meats. His favourite was the San Secondo pastrami, but he wouldn’t turn his nose up at culatello either.
Food and dining tables are often present in his works.
It’s enough to think about the famous toast “Libiamo nei lieti calici” (the famous invitation to sip in wine glasses) at the end of the Act One of “La Traviata”, or about the dance hall of the Duke of Mantua that is the opening of “Rigoletto”, or again about the tureen of smoking rice in the inn scene in Sierra Morena in “Force of Destiny”.