Matilde of Canossa
Mantua, 1046 – Bondeno, 1115
Life and History
Daughter of Boniface the III, lord of Mantua and Tuscany, and Beatrice di Lorena, Matilde suffered great loss beginning at a young age. Both her father and sister died while Maltide was a still a baby and she was placed in the care of the Kingdom of Saxony.
Her cousin Henry III, the future Emperor, raised her under the tutelage of his court. Her life’s adventure began when she finally had to manage her father’s fortune and estates while defending the Pope, her spiritual father, at the same time.
Matlide was a strong woman, and perhaps for this reason, she was the one, for almost the entire duration of her reign, to tip the balance between the Empire and the Church. At the time, the two most important men on earth asked her sage advice and help to achieve their goals. Matilde pledged her faith to both her Emperor cousin and the Pope and like a perfect diplomat, gained the trust and respect of both.
The truce did not last long and Matilde had to arm herself in order to defend her position. She was able to keep her marquisate in tact, and finally returned to her beloved castle to live in peace and sobriety until the end of her days. Her personal objects are now housed at Saint Peter’s in Rome.
The Dutchess Matilde had a sober, but elegant character. Many stories have been told about her exquisite banquets. A description of this dish, perhaps of Eastern origin, was first recorded during Matilde’s time. Today, we can consider it both a main course, an entrée, or as a dessert when made without meat.
- ⅝ lb almonds
- broth to taste
- 2 hen breasts
- 2 oz rice flour
- 4 cups milk
- 2 cups almond milk
- sugar to taste
- butter to taste
- clove to taste
Peel the almonds and pound in a mortar adding a little stock, then sieve. Cut the boiled chicken breast into small cubes and brown in a little butter.
Place a non-stick pan on the heat and pour in the milk and almond milk; when it reaches boiling point, add the rice flour - taking care that it does not form lumps – the chicken and a pinch of sugar.
When the mixture has thickened, pour into individual dessert bowls, garnish with toasted almonds and a few cloves. Flavor with rose water.
M. RINALDI, La storia è servita: vizi e virtù nel piatto dei grandi della storia, Milano, Golosia & C., 1996.