food, history and art – some ruminations by Fredrika Jacobs

Who is Pulcinella?

Identifiable by his flowing, white pantaloons and shirt, black mask, and beak-like nose, Pulcinella was by the 17th century a stock character in the popular theater of Naples. As an 18th century print by Pier Leone Ghezzi shows, he was also closely associated with food, or rather, its absence. Ghezzi represented him surrounded by his famished brood. Others showed him devouring pasta, which, being made of wheat flour and water, was the simplest and cheapest of fare, or despondent, his pasta bowl (and stomach) empty. Today, Pulcinella would have less to lament. The Encyclopedia of Pasta lists no less than 310 types of pasta noodles over which a wide variety of sauces made with an amazing array of ingredients can be poured. Here’s to exploring variety!


2 thoughts on “Who is Pulcinella?

  1. Dr Jacobs-
    So glad to see you have a blog! I always loved your Rennaisance Art class @ VCU. Made a big impact in how I see and interpret art to this day. i’ll definately be looking forward to future blogs. -Erin Fearns, VCU ARTH ’01

  2. Pulcinelli:

    You’re fools, a troop,
    That’s born to stoop.
    We’re the wise,
    We see through lies:
    And then our bags
    Our caps and rags,
    Are light to wear:
    And free from care,
    We’re always idle,
    Slippered, we sidle,
    Through market crowds,
    Slithering about,
    Standing to gaze,
    And croak, amazed:
    And at that sound,
    Through heaving mounds,
    Eel-like slipping,
    Lightly skipping,
    We romp together.
    Praise us ever,
    Or scold us so,
    We let both go.

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