The Pavia Feast (2022)

Menu for Defending the Gate XIV

This feast is themed around the battle of Pavia, the decisive battle of the First Hapsburg-Valois Italian War of 1521–26.  This was a French defeat that permanently undermined the French position in Italy and saw King Francis I captured, shipped to Spain and ransomed. Pavia is in the Italian region of Lombardy, which ranges from the mountainous alpine landscape in the north to alluvial plains by the Po River. This area has been a heartland of Italian agriculture throughout history, with a wide variety of available ingredients.

Recipes are linked from individual menu entries. Recipes serve 8 unless otherwise noted.

First Course: Cena per il Re

There is a legend that when King Francis I was defeated at the Battle of Pavia, he fled and found himself in a local farmhouse, where he was given succor and supper. Supposedly, the farmwife took the plain fare she had on hand and made it fancier with soft-boiled and cheesy toast for his majesty. This origin story of the modern zuppa pavese is probably apocryphal, but we still took it as a theme for this first course.


Bread and Flavored Butters

Second Course: To the Victors go the Spoils

This course represents the victory party of the winners. The Battle of Pavia involved forces from a variety of nations, including Italy and Spain, as well as Landsknecht mercenaries fighting on both sides. Think of this as a fancy potluck!