Is it “américaine” or “armoricaine”? It’s one of the great culinary debates of the century. What is the difference? Is there a difference? Can we agree to disagree?
Some claim that américaine sauce uses Calvados brandy while the armoricaine contains cognac. There is also a theory that armoricaine is an américaine sauce finished with sour cream. The debate is always open but it appears in fact that there isn’t any difference between the two.
Curnonsky (real name Maurice Edmond Saillant), one of the most famous and respected food writers of the 20th century, holds the answers on the origins of the dish.
It appears that a French chef from Sète, in southern France, by the name of Pierre Fraysse spent some time working in Chicago. Upon his return to France, he opened a restaurant, Peter's, in Paris. One evening at the end of service when the kitchen was closed, a group of guests showed up and insisted on being served dinner. Fraysse accepted and went back to the kitchen, but, with limited time and supplies he grabbed some lobster flesh, cut it in chunks to cook it faster, and gently poached it in a mixture of shallots, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, white wine and cognac. The guests were blown away and asked the chef for the name of this extraordinary dish. On the spot, and in memory of his time across the Atlantic, Fraysse named it “Homard a l’Americaine” (American lobster).
In time the word “américaine” has turned into “armoricaine”, possibly due to the fact that the Armorique area of Brittany is one the biggest seafood producers. The two words are so similar, it is nearly a case of “to-may-to” “to-mah-to” if you ask me!
This recipe does not use lobster, but, if you fancy it, by all means, be my guest. Calamari will require more cooking time than the luxury shellfish in order to melt in your mouth; traditionally, it cooks for an hour minimum but in the Thermomix 30 minutes will give you a very tender protein.
The buckwheat galette, traditional Breton savoury pancake, is a fantastic accompaniment. Try this for something different and truly unique. You may just feel like you have been transported to the land of Asterix.