bain marie

method and device for preparing or keeping food warm over or in hot water

From the medieval Latin balneum Mariae, literally 'bath of Mary'.

Mary would mean Miriam, the sister of Moses. There is also often mention of Maria de Cleofa (Mary of Clopas), one of the Marys who stood under the cross after Jesus' crucifixion, or Marie la Juive.

In any case, it concerns a certain Maria, author of a book about medicine, magic and cooking. The heating technique basically consists of two pans that are put together: the inner pan is gently heated by the water in the outer one.

Only the outer one comes into direct contact with the fire. Catherine de Medici's cooks brought this bagno maria from Florence to Paris in 1533, together with broccoli, artichokes and Savoy cabbage.

> (see also frangipane)