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Medici; Catherine de

(1519-1589) - A member of the noble family of Florence, the city"s rulers from 1434 until they died out in 1737. She married the Duc d"Orleans in 1533, and brought her Italian chefs with her. The Duke later became Henri 11 of France. She is credited with the refinement of French cuisine. Many modern historians now dispute this, as recently released records suggest that French culinary skills didn"t become noticeably refined until a new cuisine was codified by Pierre Fran├žois de la Varenne in "Le Cuisinier Fran├žois" in 1651, which captured the imagination of the court.

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