Marie Louise of Austria

Vienna, 1791 – Parma, 1847

Life and History

Maria Luigia d'AustriaMarie Louise, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Austrian Emperor Francis I, spent the first part of her life living according to the strict customs of the Habsburg Court. She was educated in an Imperial fashion and taught how to be a wife of a king. No one ever would have guessed that she would have ended up with Napoleon, who her teachers and family described as the main threat to their country.

Napoleon, not having produced an heir with his first wife Josephine, reluctantly made Marie Louise reject her family and bow down to his Empire. However, Napoleon was always sweet and caring with his new wife and did everything he could to make the French people love her.

Marie Louise left her home and all its strict rules to live the life of a fairytale in the most important Court in Europe. She was pleased with her new life and was happy to become more French in her manners, her clothing and her diet. She lived during the glory years of French cuisine and developed a real sweet tooth, having probably not been given many sweets as a child. She also refined her table manners while in France.

With the fall of the Empire, Marie Louise lost her husband to prison. Their son, who had become distant from his mother, was taken into the Austrian Court as a prisoner of high regard. He died there at a young age. In exchange for her loss, Marie Louise received a small duchy in Northern Italy and began the third part of her life in Parma.

During her reign, she tried to reinstate the splendor of the Empire, bringing with her a team of cooks and trunks of porcelain from Limoges, France. The people of Parma appreciated her good taste and the lasting influence she had on the city. There are even noticeable signs of the French cuisine in the food of Parma.

The recipe

Sweet Green Tortelli

Marie Louise brought many French dishes to Parma. There were also many French chefs, who after the fall of the Empire, decided to move to other European capitals. Parma has always been proud of the convergence of its own popular traditions and the elegance imported by Marie Louise.


  • 2 lb short crust pastry
  • 2 lb spinach
  • ½ lb chickpeas
  • 1 ½ lb sugar
  • 1 ½ lb orange zests candied
  • oz cinnamon
  • oz coriander seeds
  • oz nutmeg
  • oz anise
  • oz cloves

45 minutes preparation + 10 minutes cooking

After soaking the chickpeas overnight, boil them as well as the spinach. Once cooked, drain chickpeas and drain and squeeze the spinach; chop finely adding the sugar and the chopped orange zest.

Leave the filling to rest for one day, then add the ground spices: roll out the short pastry in strips, not too thin, and place small dollops of filling on the strips leaving some space in between.

Fold the strips over and cut out the tortelli in a crescent shape using a cutting wheel; arrange the tortelli onto a baking sheet, buttered and dusted with flour, and bake at a medium temperature until golden.

Gastronomic Library
M. RINALDI, La storia è servita: vizi e virtù nel piatto dei grandi della storia, Milano, Golosia & C., 1996.

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