By Sherril Steele-Carlin
Surprisingly, it was the Italians who were the ones who had the most influence on French cuisine, for a number of reasons. In 15th century Renaissance Europe, food was becoming much more significant than a simple meal.
Art, literature, and education were thriving, and so was a great interest in first-class food and drink. Wealthy Italians in Florence raised food to a higher norm, by using fresh ingredients and creating astonishing dishes, like layered pasta dishes (lasagna, manicotti, etc.), soups, breads, and desserts. They had learned how to keep food fresher, too, so that helped food remain tasty longer. They also started using ingredients like truffles, garlic, and mushrooms in their dishes.
All of this originality made its way to France through the famous Medici family. Catherine de Medici married France’s King Henry II in the mid-sixteenth century, and brought her food ideas to the French court. Later, another Medici married another French king, and the food just kept coming. As a result, dining in France became increasingly significant. Like the Italians, the French liked to embellish their tables with fine china, glassware, and serving ware. Dinner, said one critic, became “theater” in France, and it has remained a highlight of French culture and society.
Don’t Forget the Wine
Wine is an essential part of French dining, and it is paired to match the food that is served. During an elaborate French meal the wine is paired to each course. A light, bubbly Champagne may improve the first course. A dry white may go with the soup, and a hearty red might pair with the main course. A light, sweet dessert wine might go together with the dessert or cheese plate. The French are masters of combining foods with wine, and it is an essential part of their meals.
Read more of the history at: http://www.preferredconsumer.com/food_drink/articles/french_food.html#
Click the following link for MCCN’s review of the French bistro of acclaimed Chef Cindy Wolf: Petit Louis Bistro in Baltimore, MD.