Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Royal Treatment

Tradition holds that Catherine de Medici introduced the fork to France; could it be that François I introduced yoghurt? From an article in yesterday's Guardian on the history of the curdled delight:

"[I]t took a long time for yoghurt to become a staple. In 1542, François I lay mopish and squitty with diarrhoea, depression or both. The French king heard that his ally Suleyman the Magnificent in Constantinople had a remarkable Jewish doctor who reportedly cured anything with a miracle tonic made from the milk of his sheep. François sent for the medic, who trudged across Europe with his flock over several weeks to reach Paris. A course of sheep's yoghurt was prescribed, and the king was cured. All the sheep died, sadly, and the doctor headed home despite François pleading for him to stay."

What, the milk from French sheep wouldn't cut it? In any case, the good doctor's journey gives new meaning to the term "house call"!


Anonymous said...

That's interesting! I've heard (read) that it was actually Catherine's son Henri III who introduced forks to France after his return from Poland, where they had been used since the reign of the last Jagiellon king (1548-72, at least).


Julianne Douglas said...

Interesting, indeed. I'll have to look into that. I've never heard that about Henri III and the fork, but it sounds possible. I wonder if there's any documented evidence of the year forks were first seen at court.