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My wife was surprised the other day to see a sauce called American sauce. Now what would that be?

It’s a sauce used for lobsters or seafood, made with tomatoes, shallots, lobster stock, white wine and herbs.

But why is it called American?

It was invented in the 19th century by a French chef, Pierre Fraise, who had spent a long time in America. One day some customers came for a late dinner. As he didn’t have a lot left in the kitchen he drew up a quick recipe with some lobsters and a sauce. He called it Le Homard à L’Américaine (American Lobster), probably in memory of his time spent in America, but maybe also to explain to his customers why they’d never heard of such a sauce.

But it seems some chefs might have been a tad unhappy to cook lobster the American way, seeing that for most of them only France had a proper gastronomic culture. So some, either purposefully or not, misheard and started calling it sauce a l’Armoricaine. Armorique refers to the coastal region of Brittany, where you can indeed get a lot of good seafood.

So now you can find the same sauce, under two different names. To be accurate, in Brittany, you should be eating an Armoricaine Lobster a l’Americaine.

French or American? Show me your papers!

French or American? Show me your papers!