Italy’s influence on French Gastronomy.
Before we go any further with this sequence of blogs, there is a minor detail we need to investigate. Did modern gastronomy begin in France? The short answer is no. Many things happened to bring us to what we call the new age of food. The story goes that Catarina de Medici brought it to France on her marriage to the Kings son, read on below her image for more information. Tomorrow we shall embark upon France, and follow the timeline from there. Cheers!
The legend that de’ Medici introduced a long list of foods, techniques and utensils from Italy to France for the first time is a myth routinely discredited by most food historians.Barbara Ketcham Wheaton and Stephen Mennell provided the definitive arguments against these claims. They point out that Catherine’s father-in-law, King Francis I, and the flower of the French aristocracy had dined at some of Italy’s most élite tables during the king’s Italian campaigns (and that an earlier generation had done so during King Charles VIII‘s invasion of 1494); that a vast Italian entourage had visited France for the wedding of Catherine de’ Medici’s father to her French-born mother; and that she had little influence at court until her husband’s death because he was so besotted by his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. In fact, a large population of Italians—bankers, silk-weavers, philosophers, musicians, and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci—had emigrated to France to promote the burgeoning Renaissance. Nevertheless, popular culture frequently attributes Italian culinary influence and forks in France to Catherine.