This is the recipe for the frogs so beloved of Pope Pius IV. They are sauteed with parsley and garlic, or plainly fried and served with agresto (tart grape juice) thickened with egg yolks. Frogs are still a speciality of Pius IV’s native Lombardy, where they live in the flooded rice fields of the Po valley.
Remove the head with its big mouth, and cut off the feet up to the first joint, and leave to soak in cold water, changing the water in the course of eight hours, so that the frogs cleanse themselves and plump up, and whiten, and then take them from the water and fry them, either with the legs tucked under the body, or cut off at the joint, removing the bone; sprinkle them with flour and fry them in oil and serve with a little ground salt, and above all do not cover them after frying as they become hard and shrivel and lose their goodness. You can also fry them with cloves of garlic and parsley, and serve them with the garlic and parsley and pepper and ground salt as a sauce, which is the way Pope Pius IV used to eat them in 1564 when I served him. When they have been fried just like this, with flour, you can keep them hot in agresto sauce made with fresh agresto, and egg yolks.