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Old 10-04-2006, 12:55 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bullseye
Caterina de Medici may have brought her army of cooks to France with her, but I have never read of her bringing cookbooks nor manuals for kitchen technique, by which I mean not only sauce making, but food prep, knife use, etc.
She did contribute quite a bit...

"The lonely princess had brought along a retinue of cooks (called capi cuochi) with her, and now they comforted her with the delicacies of her homeland-sorbets, macaroons, frangipane tarts, and zabaglione. They introduced vegetables never before seen in France-broccoli, green beans, peas, truffles, artichokes, and melons. Guinea hens, as well as veal made an appearance. And most importantly, these Italian cooks taught the French how to move past the medieval preferences for meats prepared with dry rubs of strong spices, but instead how to employ delicate sauces.

Catherine also brought nicety to the table in the area of manners--she brought along the fork and table etiquette. In this, the French were a bit slower to adopt the fashion--not for another hundred years would the fork take hold, and table manners would be scoffed at as effeminate until the reign of the Sun King (Louis XIV)."

http://vt.essortment.com/whocatherinede_rggi.htm

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"When she moved to France, a crowd of friends, servants, and waiters accompanied her. The Florentine cooks who went with her brought the secrets of Italian cooking to France, including peas and beans, artichokes, duck in orange (canard a l’orange), and carabaccia (onion soup). But especially the pastry makers, as Jean Orieux (a biographer of Caterina) wrote, demonstrated their innovative genius with sorbets and ice creams, marmalades, fruits in syrup, pastry making, and pasta. A certain Sir Frangipani gave his name to the custard and the tart known in France as Frangipane.


Caterina also brought with her to the French table new protocol, such as the separation of salty and sweet dishes, at a time when all over Europe sweets were still consumed together with meat and fish in the style of the medieval times. Everyone in France was amazed by the Florentine elegance Caterina introduced: gracious table setting and dining, embroidery and handkerchiefs, light perfumes and fine lingerie, as well as luxurious silverware and glasses."


http://www.annamariavolpi.com/caterina_de_medici.html
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Old 10-04-2006, 04:14 AM   #22
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Interestingly, Scots cuisine (yes, despite rumours, there IS such a thing!) was strongly affected by the French. Mary Queen of Scots was half French, her mother, Mary of Guise was French. MQS spent her childhood in France, married the Dauphin and then returned to Scotland as a young woman. Her retinue included cooks and even now in Scotland some things, like certain butcher cuts of meat are done in the French fashion, rather than English. For example, we still buy gigot (pronounced jiggot by the Scots!) chops of lamb...
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Old 10-04-2006, 05:24 AM   #23
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She did contribute quite a bit...
No question about that. My point is that neither she nor any in the Italian city-states or, in fact, elsewhere in Europe, did what the French subsequently did--take what they had learned up until that point and put it into a code or structured, written record that became a sort of springboard and benchmark for what culinary advances were to come. It's a bit like an insurance policy that insures against our regression to forkless, broccoli fearing, culinary barbarians.
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Old 10-04-2006, 09:40 AM   #24
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Bullseye, I believe that after the French Revolution there were suddenly a lot of chefs for royalty/nobility who found themselves unemployed, and were forced to open places where the ordinary folk (with enough money to pay for the experience) could come to dine. And the recipes were written into books to sell to the public for the same reason--cash in the pocket for the author. It's a quirk of history, so to speak. But you are right, it did change the kitchen for the better.
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Old 10-04-2006, 10:40 AM   #25
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Oh, I think the French have this one WON, hands down.
THe Italians taught the French how to cook ... Caterina de Medici brought her chefs to France. Now I am not refering to Italian-American cuisine, some of which is fine btw, but the real thing. Doesn't suffer from meager times due to the creaticity and basic premises of the cuisine.
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Old 10-04-2006, 12:25 PM   #26
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Actually, I believe that if we are technical, Catherine de Medici brought Tuscan cooking to France. That is, Northern Italian cooking.

Most Italian-American cuisine is from Southern Italy. A different culture, and a different cooking style. As different as Naples is from Florence.
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Old 10-04-2006, 06:48 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by TexanFrench
Bullseye, I believe that after the French Revolution there were suddenly a lot of chefs for royalty/nobility who found themselves unemployed, and were forced to open places where the ordinary folk (with enough money to pay for the experience) could come to dine. And the recipes were written into books to sell to the public for the same reason--cash in the pocket for the author. It's a quirk of history, so to speak. But you are right, it did change the kitchen for the better.
Interesting historical tidbit, TexanFrench. I always find it fascinating how intertwined the events of history are. We tend to view history in myopic, single cause, single effect terms, but more often than not what affects one affects all. Whatever the reason--and I should have known to "follow the money"--the post-Revolution French chefs accomplished a feat that we can be grateful for.
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:46 PM   #28
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Good bit for reading!!

"Good eating habits are a relatively new experience for French people as little as 200 years ago about 80% of the population consisted of farmers who ate mainly bread and cereals. This way of eating had been popular in the country since ancient times. The situation started to change in the middle of the nineteenth century with the rise of the aristocracy, when food became a symbol of social position."

http://www.enjoyfrance.com/content/view/43/36/
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Old 10-10-2006, 05:34 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Robo410
THe Italians taught the French how to cook ... Caterina de Medici brought her chefs to France. Now I am not refering to Italian-American cuisine, some of which is fine btw, but the real thing. Doesn't suffer from meager times due to the creaticity and basic premises of the cuisine.
Robo - I know the Italian chefs 'taught' the French how to cook, but my comments about the French was in answer to a question about which nation was the most chauvinistic, French, British or someone else.

IMHO, the French have it won, hands down....
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Old 10-10-2006, 07:04 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Seven S
Good bit for reading!!

"Good eating habits are a relatively new experience for French people as little as 200 years ago about 80% of the population consisted of farmers who ate mainly bread and cereals. This way of eating had been popular in the country since ancient times. ..."

http://www.enjoyfrance.com/content/view/43/36/
Breads and cereals, eh? Add some lugumes and greens, and a little fruit, and you have some of the healthiest cuisines in the world. I find it interesting, as I do most social trends in food, that the modern French eschew fusion and vegetarian cooking. I'll have to stew on that for a bit. <g>
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