FLORENTINE (A LA)
1) 'Florentine' refers to a person from Florence, Italy.
2) It also refers to something relating to Florence, Italy (especially relating to the art that flourished there during the Renaissance): a Florentine desk would be a desk made in Florence during the Renaissance.
3) From around the 15th century to the 19th century, a 'florentine' was a sort of meat pie or tart. The connection to the Italian city of Florence is unknown.
4) According to many sources, it took on its present culinary meaning in the 19th century.
'A la Florentine' means in the style of Florence, and usually refers to dishes which contain spinach (and frequently together with Mornay sauce), especially eggs, fish and white meat.
The connection to Florence, Italy is a little obscure, but there is a story that *Catherine de Medici introduced spinach to the Court of France (or at least made it popular). To honor her Italian roots, she supposedly dubbed any dish containing spinach 'Florentine'.
There is really no substantive evidence that this story is true, other than that she did without doubt introduce many Italian foods to France (ices, ice cream, sherbet, quenelles, zabaglione, pasta, etc.)
*Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) was the wife of Henry II of France, and therefore Queen of France during his reign (1560-1563).
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