„Often it is only the second bite that combines pleasure and addiction.“
1598 – the year in our Modena Estense logo – denotes both the year that Modena became the capital of the Duchy of Modena and the year that Reggio Emilia and the new Duke Cesare d’Este moved to the town with his family. Moreover, it’s also the year that the noble family encountered a taste that would give it distinction for centuries to come – balsamico.
It’s not known whether the sweet vinegar was compensation for losing Ferrara to Pope Clement VIII. What’s most certainly known, however, is that the duke’s castle got its own acetaia for manufacturing – and this high-grade vinegar was called l’aceto del duca bekannt war, long before it became today’s customary balsamico.
The ducal family d’Este took up residence in town and found an interest in the culinary culture. Regional specialties became a popular figurehead of the d’Este at the courts of European princes, kings and emperors – as gifts for special occasions, such as coronations or weddings. Over the centuries, Modena thus became synonymous with the Italian way of life. Inspired by this great past, Modena Estense combines regional origins and noble obligations – with the best specialties the region has to offer.
The significance of Modena 1598 for the worldwide export of culinary treasures is historically documented. The transition from Renaissance to Baroque is of culinary significance as tastes saw a grand (and sustained) invigoration of flavours after the discovery of America: tomatoes, peppers, corn and (neglected for far too long) the potato gained ground in Italy with the combination of spaghetti or macaroni with tomato sauce (which only took place in the 17th century and in Sicily) seen as the most important dish. The Dukes d’Este, however, were known for their turkey breeding, very popular on the tables of rich people and even a coveted wedding present! Italy didn’t just export art and cuisine, but also savoir vivre – cleanliness, good manners, and use of a fork.
Another significant factor for Modena 1598 was the (slow, multi-decade) end of the Renaissance, and the rediscovery of lost knowledge from antiquity which, by the baroque period, had raised the minds of man to a new, self-aware level, redefining the lust for life. It was the Italian courts that were then known for the classic, multi-sensual staging of meals. Desserts accompanied by dance performances, gold-ornated turkey feathers, elaborately presented hunting platters – anything to add a new, artistic layer to culinary art.
This is not too dissimilar from our present times. Product staging is a part of the purchase experience, home cinemas transport hyper-real sound experiences, and even conventional kitchen devices connect to the endless world wide web. Compare Richard Wagner’s works (the combination of music, poetry, dance, architecture, and art) to today’s virtual reality technology, and the lust for life and indulgence of the hedonist – they all have their roots in Modena 1598.
If you, too, want to enjoy the origins of Italian cuisine with all the senses, Modena Estense is exactly the right place! We are happy to answer any further questions.