Maike Vogt-Lüerssen, a private art historian with a passion for the Renaissance, is convinced she has uncovered the identity of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa: “The person depicted in the “Mona Lisa” painting in the Louvre is not, as claimed by art-historians, the wife of a silk merchant, but the Milanese Duchess Isabella of Aragon.“
Here, you can read about her research, published in Germany in her book Who is Mona Lisa? In Search of her Identity.
But, if Vogt-Lüerssen’s theory is correct, another mystery about Mona Lisa has been revealed: Mona Lisa’s secret cheese!
On the 5th of february 1489, Isabella of Aragon married her first cousin Gian Galeazzo II Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. A very short book, Ordine de le imbandisone: balletto conviviale di Bergonzio Botta, was published to document the great wedding banquet hosted by Count Botta of Tortona in his castle. This banquet seemed to excel in richness and opulence: no course was served without some kind of entertainment: actors, mimes, singers and dancers, representing allegorical characters inspired by mythology.
The name of the chef? Mastro Stefano de’ Rossi, Mastro Martino’s son.
The Master of Cerimonies? Leonardo da Vinci.
And the only admitted cheese was … Montebore cheese!
It is a typical cheese of the Curone Valley (Alessandria) which was already known in the XII century. Montebore is a characteristic conic-shaped cheese obtained by overlapping three-five cheeses of different diameters. The final product, named “Castellino“, looks like a small castle or … a wedding cake.
It is produced from a mixture of ewe’s and cow’s milk (25/30% – 70/75%). The crust is smooth, regular with a light pale-yellow colour; the dough is white or ivory-white with small and sparse holes.
Montebore cheese can be tasted fresh, quite ripe (15 days), as grated cheese and “cumudò” (kept in olive oil in small pieces).
Nowadays, it is classified as “Presidio of Slow Food” but only one producer is listed in this “Presidio” and follows its production rules.
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Recipe with Montebore cheese on this blog: Risotto con birra e Montebore
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Ordine de le imbandisone: balletto conviviale di Bergonzio Botta.
(T. Calco, Nuptiae Mediolanesium Docum sive Iannis Galeacij cum Isabella Aragona, Ferdiandi Neapolitanorum Regis nepote, in Redidua, edito in Milano 1644).
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Un grandissimo grazie alla Giuria e a Ferrarini!!!