Italian cooking traces its origins back to a Florentine noble lady, Catherine de’ Medici. Born in Florence 500 years ago, on April 13, 1519, Catherine de’ Medici created a world at the dining table that was admired for its beauty and munificence. When she moved to Paris to marry Henry II of France, the new queen immediately gained recognition for her refined taste, taking with her a retinue of cooks and pastry chefs and introducing dining rituals and manners to the French court. The most important of which was the use of the fork, which she had learned in the cultured world of the Florentine court. Florence’s Queen of France taught the local cooks to make Béchamel, a sauce that would become the basis for French cooking. Even crepes are actually a version of an Italian dish called pezzole or crespelle. Other delicacies that Catherine brought to France include an onion soup, a liver sauce that became a version of pate and ratatouille, as well as duck à l'orange, sorbet, zuppa inglese and profiteroles. Catherine was interested in many aspects of cooking, not just how delicious the plates were. She had trouble becoming pregnant and began to study the different characteristics of foods, including their powers as an aphrodisiac, such as onions and artichokes as well as cardoons, spring onions, courgettes and mushrooms. She eventually gave birth to ten children, but her influence on table manners and food culture still continues to outlive the Medici line today.