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Catherine de Medici circa 1555
Catherine de Medici is credited with introducing many food innovations to France. She's said to have taught the French how to eat with a fork, and introduced foods and dishes such as artichokes, aspics, baby peas, broccoli, cakes, candied vegetables, cream puffs, custards, ices, lettuce, milk-fed veal, melon seeds, parsley, pasta, puff pastry, quenelles, scallopine, sherbet, spinach, sweetbreads, truffles and zabaglione. She is reputed to have arrived in France with her own personal cooks, pastry cooks, chefs, confectioners and distillers. On a good day, she's even said to have invented women's knickers.

As always, the truth is less easy, and less exciting. Catherine came to France relatively poor, and for her first ten years there, her husband's mistress had all the influence and she had none. It's only in the mid-1800s in France that she started being credited with first a few items, and then more and more. Prior to that, though, there is actually no earlier documentation for any of it. The kindest response one can really give to such myths is that perhaps she helped such food and food-related items to gain more acceptance. The fork, for instance, was used back her in native Italy at a time when the rest of Europe still looked on it as being a bit pretentious; her using it may have encouraged more around her to try it as well.

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Today's Lunchtime Article
In America, the predominant Turkey breed is the American Bronze (aka Broadbreasted White), which was developed in the 1950s for size and weight. 99% of the Turkeys sold are Broadbreasted White. These domesticated birds are so awkward that they can't fly or run: they can't breed by themselves, and have to be artificially inseminated. Without man around to help, there wouldn't be a next generation of them. They are usually brought to market within 3 months of hatching, at an average weight of 27 pounds (12 kg.)

When first hatched, Turkeys are not fed for the first day or so, as they are still digesting yolk that is in their stomachs.
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