What about Marie Antoinette?

Some say she’s the one who brought much of the viennoiserie to Paris. It’s a convenient explanation since she was Austrian and something of a culture maven (as long as it was Austrian culture). I confess that while I’m familiar with the arguments in Jim Chevallier’s book on August Zang, I’m not familiar with much documentation on Marie Antoinette’s contributions to French baking, though it’s probable there were at least some. I invite anyone who’s familiar with the subject to weigh in.

On a related note, reader Paul wants to know if there’s any truth to the notion that when Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake” what she really said was “let them eat brioche.” In fact I’ve written on that. You can find the post right here.

3 thoughts on “What about Marie Antoinette?”

  1. The main reason I began to research the croissant was discovering that it only appeared around the middle of the nineteenth century – long after Marie-Antoinette died. I really don’t think she had any influence on French baking; in fact, one firm piece of evidence AGAINST her bringing the croissant to France is that none of the scandal sheets of the time – which followed royalty’s every move – say a thing about her introducing any baked goods of any sort. She DID have a “German” baker (that is one from the general area) and maybe he made her kipfels (croissants) and kaiser semmels, (kaiser rolls, but much finer once up on a time than they are today), but if so it was kept very quiet – the Austrian queen was very careful never to look too nostalgiac for her home country.

  2. Lateish to the party, but Antonia Fraser’s wonderful biography of Marie Antoinette mentions nothing about her influencing French cooking. MA seems to have enjoyed interior decorating more than food(!). However, reference the infamous, “Let them eat cake!” line, Ms. Fraser says,

    “In fact that lethal phrase had been known for at least a century previously, when it was ascribed to the Spanish princess Marie Therese, bride of Louis XIV, in a slightly different form: if there was no bread, let the people eat the crust (croute) of the pate….But the most convincing proof of Marie Antoinette’s innocence came from the memoirs of the Comte de Provence, published in 1823. No gallant guardian of his sister-in-law’s reputation, he remarked that eating pate en croute always reminded him of the saying of his own ancestress, Queen Maria Therese. It was, in short, a royal chestnut.” (p. 135 in my soft-cover edition)

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