Citizens! Your culinary north-star, the Viscount of Victual Virality who leads from the front-lines of culinary revolution – YOUR TFD! – is sadly all TOO viral this week. Yes, I am sad to inform you that I am flat on my back with a respiratory 🦠 so awful, so heinous, so murderously psychotic, that my coughs literally boom through the sound barrier. So fell is this microscopic assassin of joy that I feel it must have been sneezed straight from Satan’s proboscis itself! No matter, even on death’s threshold, I stretch forth my generous hand and grant you this benison of classic French cuisine – renowned across time and space as lobster l’Américaine!
As eruditely noted on food reference.com:
Lobster a l’Américaine, or for its full French name, Homard a l’Américaine, is a lobster dish of dubious origin.
It is decidedly French, but there ends all that is definitive about its provenance. A popular story is that a chef by the name of Pierre Fraisse, (who hailed from the Languedoc region of France), whipped up the dish circa 1860 in Paris for a group of late night diners.
He had spent time cooking in the US and thus gave the dish its American tag line, “Americaine,” or so they say. Others claim the dish was already on the menu before Fraisse arrived and originated, much like Fraisse, in the Languedoc.
There exists a contingent who insist the dish is actually named after Armorica, the ancient name for Brittany. However, as various food writers have pointed out, the dish contains oil, garlic, and tomatoes, all ingredients not indigenous to Brittany or its cuisine. This may explain yet another theory that the dish sprung from the Mediterranean.
A final and quirky postulate is the dish received its moniker because it was served to first class passengers on ships headed for America. It never ceases to amaze me just how many classic concoctions are mired in controversy over their origins.
The dish experienced a huge wave of popularity in the 1960’s, where it became a staple menu item on so-called ‘Continental’ restaurant menus in America – perhaps unsurprisingly given its name!
Today, the dish is rarely seen and when it does make a re-appearance, it’s usually tough from overcooking, harsh from the use of too-much alcohol (or failing to light up the cognac to burn off the alcohol) and swimming in a tomato sauce that all too obviously was cracked open from a tin.
I – the promised One who will rise like Lazarus from my bed-ridden entombment at the appointed hour – aim to restore l’Américaine to its noble roots and share the one true path to resurrected glory with you!
To start, you need the best-possible crustaceans – you can buy supremely-fresh live lobsters from here.
If at all possible, please do use only female lobsters for this l’Américaine recipe, as the flesh is not only more tender, but you get the delicious roe for the sauce as well! You should dispatch the lobsters quickly and humanely as noted in the recipe – if that is too much for a delicate sensibility, you can put them in the freezer for 10 minutes first to put them to sleep and then drop them in boiling water for a minute as an alternative.
Citizens, I promised in my post at the end of 2019 to bring you more classic recipes of yore in 2020 – and TFD delivers on His promises! Try this with a classic French soup such as this one.
Battle on – the Generalissimo