Da Vinci in the Kitchen
| Peter Klein |
More on engineering versus economic perspectives on innovation:
For Leonardo, every food was only as good as the machine that created it, the technique was as important as the taste. Leonardo’s work in the Sforza kitchen strove for efficiency, but often the result of all this time — saving was sheer insanity, reported the humanist courtier Sabba da Castiglione:
“Master Leonardo da Vinci’s kitchen is a bedlam. . . . At one end of the premise, a great waterwheel, driven by a raging waterfall over it, spewed and spattered forth its waters over all who passed beneath and made the floor a lake. Giant bellows, each twelve feet long, were suspended from the ceilings, hissing and roaring with intent to clear the fire smoke, but all they did accomplish was to fan the flames to the detriment of all who needed to negotiate by the fires — so fierce the wandering flames that a constant stream of men with buckets was employed in trying to quell them, even though other waters spouted forth on all from every corner of the ceilings.”
Every kitchen task could be mechanized — crushing garlic, pulling spaghetti, plucking ducks, cutting a pig into cubes — but the machines Leonardo imagined were sometimes far more elaborate than the task required. His invention for a giant whisk twice the size of a man involved an operator from within who was constantly in danger of being wisked into the sauce. . . . Another model involved a team of three horses engaged in the task of crushing a nut.