Well all the girls want to have a cookbook -- even Lucretia Borgia. This slim volume, The Lucretia Borgia Cookbook, appeared in the early 1070's, growing out of research by Dorothy and Martin Blinder. In sniffing out foods of antiquity they began to notice a pattern; the more sinister the behavior, the better the food. One would think that watching some cooking programs on television not much has changed since Lucretia Borgia.
So it would seem that Lucretia and her brother, Cesare, were fond of throwing lavish dinner parties and lacing the food with something more than freshly ground black pepper. It would seem they were a bit fond of each other, too, but that's another story. Her artichokes were legendary, especially when they were served with a lovely arsenic dressing. Alas, that recipe is lost to us so the artichokes will have to suffice.
Steamed Stuffed Artichokes
4 large artichokes
8-10 slices day old bread, cut into small cubes
1 onion, chop fine
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Romano cheese, grated
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Trim top and bottom of each artichoke and cut off thorn of each leaf with kitchen shears. Parboil in slated water for approximately 15 minutes. Drain artichokes and reserve some of the water.
Combine all ingredients, mix well, stuff a bit into each leaf. Return stuffed artichokes to the pot, crowding them in so that they hold each other upright, and pour back reserved water to a depth of one inch, taking care to pour at the sides, rather than over the artichokes. Cover and slowly simmer just below boiling for 2 1.2 hours. Add more of the reserved water occasionally if needed. (Again, be careful not to soak artichokes.) Shake the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. Serves four.
First, I'm not to sure Lucretia Borgia had kitchen shears and if she did, she would have probably stabbed someone with them. Secondly, I'm not sure that someone, faced with a big old artichoke, would exactly know what to do with it from Lucretia's recipe. I guess in the end, some of us are meant to cook and some of us are meant to be murderous femme fatales.