I found this little gem on Twitter today, posted by Lonely Planet from Emiko Davies a Citizen-of-the-World type travel and food blogger in Florence, Italy. The Artists Table details a few days in the life of the Italian artist Jacapo Pontormo in the spring of 1554, late in his life.
On the 11th of March 1554, on Sunday morning, I ate lunch with Bronzino—chicken and veal—and felt well (it is true that I was in bed when he came for me at home. It was quite late and upon getting up I felt swollen and full. It was a very beautiful day). In the evening I ate a bit of roasted dry meat which made me thirsty.
Monday evening I ate a cabbage and an omelet.
Tuesday evening I ate one half of the head of a kid and soup.
Wednesday evening I had the other half, fried, and a pretty big helping of zibibbo grapes, and 5 quattrini of bread, and capers in salad.
Thursday evening, a soup of good mutton and salad of goat’s beard.
Friday evening, salad of goat’s beard and two eggs in an omelet.
Saturday, fasted. Sunday evening, which was the evening of Palm Sunday, I ate a little boiled mutton and salad, and had to eat three quattrini of bread.
Monday evening after dinner I felt very lively and agreeable. I ate a salad of lettuce, a thin soup of good mutton and 4 quattrini of bread.
Tuesday evening I ate a salad of lettuce and an omelet.
Holy Wednesday: evening, 2 quattrini of almonds, and an omelet and some walnuts. And I did the figure that is above the head [of another figure]. The Duchess came to San Lorenzo; the Duke came, too.
Thursday evening, a salad of lettuce and some caviar, and one egg.
Friday evening an omelet with fava beans, and a bit of caviar and 4 quattrini of bread. Saturday I ate two eggs.
Sunday, which was Easter morning and the Feast of the Annunciation, I went to eat lunch with Bronzino. And I ate dinner there, too.
Monday evening I ate a salad that was of borage and a half-lemon, and 2 eggs in an omelet.
Tuesday evening I was all hoarse and ate a rosemary bread and an omelet and a salad and some dry figs.
Thursday evening, a rosemary bread, an omelet of one egg and a salad and 4 quattrini of bread, in all.
The blog post touches on the foibles of Pontormo and his food log, interestingly enough considered neurotic and obsessive (hmmm). and some of the other interesting things of Florentine Renaissance life, but the most interesting thing I noticed, beside the minuscule amount of bread on his menu, was the fasting. He generally ate one modest meal a day with just enough to keep him going through until the next except for the occasion of a religious feast! This was a painter who spent his days painting into wet plaster, and staying active.