Papal Gelatin Molds - Gastro Obscura

Papal Gelatin Molds

The competing papal and Napoleonic seals on the cookware tell the story of the battle between an emperor and a pope.

During his eponymous wars, Napoleon invaded the Papal States, capturing Pope Pius VI and exiling him to France. Pope Pius VII, the second pontiff to suffer such an indignity, was forced to surrender his summer residence, the Quirinal Palace, to Napoleon in 1809. The emperor made a few palace renovations.

Bonaparte commissioned artist Giuseppe Martini to design official cookware for his imperial palace, to be used once the French leader became King of Rome. Martini created 777 distinct pieces.

After Napoleon was vanquished at Waterloo, he was forced to give up the Quirinal homestead. When the pope returned, he confiscated the new cookware and stamped it with the papal seal (“S.P.A.,” indicating they were the property of the Sacred Apostolic Palace). Some pieces, however, still have an “N” and the imperial crown embossed on them.

Today, you can find these copper-colored molds displayed at the Vatican Museum. It’s possible that Napoleonic cookware not on display is still used in papal kitchens. Pope Francis reportedly prefers simple meals, but indulges occasionally in his favorites, empanadas and pizza.

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Edward Denny Edward Denny