What’s the deal with Florentine cookies?
By: Kate Sefton
Before departing for my journey here in Florence, my mom got me all excited about eating Florentine cookies in the place they were created.
A florentine cookie is a thin cookie with a dark chocolate base topped with Caramel and nuts, with a cranberry in the middle. These cookies are frequented at my family parties and have been one of my favorites since childhood.
Upon arrival I began asking around for these cookies and, much to my dismay, found out that they do not exist. I have come to find that foods whose origins are in the Tuscan region are typically much fuller, starchy and large. These paper-thin cookies would not fit in in the quintessential Florence pastry shop at all.
This got me thinking about other falsely named foods (“French” fries, etc), but particularly food that Americans associate with Italy. Among the florentine cookies, lies a florentine pizza.
“Silky spinach, tangy tomato and a salty parma ham sit neatly on a traditional pizza base, topped with a perfectly cooked egg- this classic Italian Florentine pizza,” actually does not exist. Americans are baffled to arrive in Florence in search for the ever-present florentine pizza, only to find that it is a falsity, most likely made up by Americans themselves.
The most ironic part is that Americans consider eggs a breakfast food, to be eaten fried, scrambled, etc, but Florentines typically eat their eggs hard boiled and at lunch time, so it seems to be a mystery who decided to put an egg on a pizza and call it Florentine.
So, where do these falsities come from? In terms of the Florentine cookies, it seems as though they actually have French origins, but were named “florentine” after Catherine de’Medici, the Florentine queen of France from the mid-17th century.
In French cooking, however, dishes served with Spinach are called Florentine, which might explain the pizza. Although the egg is still peculiar, the pizza does typically boast spinach as a main ingredient.
Kate Sefton (@katesefton): A third-year student at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, studying marketing and digital media. Currently living, studying and working in Florence, Italy, although she originally hails from Wilmette, Illinois. She is interning with DotFlorence, a digital marketing web agency, for the next few months. You can find her anywhere the sun is, with a book in one hand and a coffee in the other.