Let me tell you a little story about the anatomy of a post. Contrary to what some might think, a post is not just a stream-of-conscious rambling about something I found interesting or unusual or just plain silly on any particular day (well, sometimes...but only when I'm desperate for readers). Usually it originates from a question that I have asked myself -- something that I've been broodingly pondering over in a café while touilléing* my espresso on the banks of the Canal St. Martin, wearing a beret and a scarf with a baguette under my arm. And usually, there is an answer. But today, I am relying on you for the answer. And let us make this a contest: whomever can give me a good answer to my question will receive a French gourmet delight of their choosing (I'm thinking chocolate, or foie gras, or duck rillettes, or fancy mustard, or Christine Ferber jam, or violettes...).
The genesis of this contest is the lunch that I made this afternoon. It is a concoction I have always heard referred to as "chicken florentine". Chicken, spinach, creamy stuff, voilà, lunch or dinner.
2 pounds fresh spinach
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
freshly grated nutmeg
toasted pine nuts (optional)
In a skillet, heat olive oil until nearly sizzling, add minced garlic and let "fry" until golden brown. Remove oil and garlic and set aside.
Chiffonnade clean spinach and place in same skillet with 1/2 glass of water. Cover skillet and let simmer for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in warm skillet, cook until done. At the same time, place spinach and sour cream in another skillet and heat over medium heat until sufficiently warm. Add grated nutmeg.
Garnish with pine nuts and have an enjoyable Sunday lunch.
Back to "florentine"...
So I started thinking (still in a café over an espresso, with a beret and a scarf and a baguette under my arm, only this time I was also eating a croissant) about "florentine". When I first came to France I was mystified by the menu and the way preparations are never described but simply refereed to by proper nouns or places, like Boeuf Bourgignon (how is one supposed to know that it is a sauce of wine (well, that is obvious) with onions and mushrooms) or any dish à la provençale (which, by the way,usually means there is some kind of tomato preparation) à la normande (usually with apples or apple brandy or apple cider), or sauce périgodienne (with foie gras or truffles or both).
Much in the same way, florentine seems to refer to a dish incorporating spinach, in some way or another. This is a bit confusing to me because florentines are also little thin, crispy cookies that you dip in chocolate and serve for afternoon tea and steak florentine (bistecca alla fiorentina) has absolutely no spinach at all!
So, getting to my question and your challenge -- why is "florentine" generally associated with spinach?
Deadline for submissions: Friday midnight, Eastern Standard Time (which would be 6am French time Saturday morning). As a legal disclaimer (I am a lawyer after all) in the event of a tie, I shall pick names out of a hat.
Also, for those of you who come to this blog for knitting related things, I promise to have a WIP update tomorrow.
Touiller (v): to stir (informal), usually used to refer to stirring sugar into coffee. Une touillette is a little plastic stirrer (in France they or white or clear, in the US they are red) that comes with espresso purchased out of a vending machine.