In Decay, the second unit of the Food for Thought course, the assignment was to write a review of two different dishes — one that is homemade and one that is eaten at a restaurant. The purpose of the assignment was to determine whether there is a difference in taste between organically and conventionally grown food, and between fresh and processed food.
I chose to review a meal of chicken and spinach prepared at Francesca’s, an Italian restaurant and the homemade version of it. I selected this meal to review, because I love eating chicken. Prior to reviewing the dish, I had always thought that organic foods tasted better than non-organic foods. Reviewing the two meals confirmed this notion of mine. The chicken and spinach that I ate at Francesca’s had that distinct taste associated with conventional food. The spinach was not to my liking, because it was a little on the bitter side. I prepared the same dish using only organic ingredients. My spinach was absolutely delicious.
You can read my food review below.
Food Review: Chicken and Spinach at Francesca’s vs. Homemade Chicken and Spinach
On a cool April evening, I dine at Francesca’s on Taylor, an Italian restaurant. I order their Pollo al Limone, a sautéed chicken breast, in a lemon white wine sauce with capers and spinach. I wait eagerly for this dish to come out. Finally, the food arrives. I am given a generous portion of food, arranged beautifully on the plate.
The two chicken breasts topped with capers, salt and pepper, frame the spinach. The aromas of the chicken are heavenly. I cannot resist. I dig into the tender chicken. It is scrumptious, bursting with flavor. The flavors of the seasonings and white wine sauce define the chicken. I can faintly taste the salt sprinkled on top. I eat a forkful of spinach. It is not cooked to my liking. It is astringent and slightly on the crispy side. The chicken and the spinach taste like conventional food.
I make dinner the following evening. Using organic ingredients, I prepare a meal of chicken breast and mexican style spinach. After I lift the top of the pan, the heavenly aromas of the spinach are released. The chicken too, smells good. I plate the food. I arrange the two chicken breasts so that they frame the spinach. The thinly chopped onion and red bell peppers are mixed into it. I take a bite of the chicken. It is delicious — tender and fresh as can be. It is savory. I put a forkful of spinach to my mouth. It is out of this world. They are cooked to perfection — tender and very soft. The bell peppers and onions are carmelized, which bring out their natural sweetness. I can taste the juice from the tomatoes and a hint of jalopeño pepper, giving it a spicy kick.
After eating the two versions of chicken and spinach, I compare them. When I ate the meal at Francesca’s, the presentation of the food on the plate looked nicer than mine. The aromas of the chicken were stronger than mine, because it was topped with more seasonings. Conventional ingredients were used. With my dish, I used very fresh ingredients — organic chicken and vegetables. I used baby spinach, which are very tender and have a sweetness to them when they are cooked. Homemade meals are often tastier than those outside the home. This was the case with my homemade version.
I have observed that Michael Pollan’s food transformation of “Quality to Quantity” is at play with the meal eaten at Francesca’s. The chicken that I ate tasted like it was conventionally raised. Since the american demand for chicken is so high, their quality is sacrificed for an increase in their production. The spinach tasted like it was conventionally grown. Increasing crop yields is the primary focus of farmers that follow conventional growing practices. These farmers use industrial fertilizers on their crops that are often nutrionally inferior to those that are grown by organic farmers. So, they are sacrificing the quality of their crops for an increase in their production.
If you want to indulge in a delicious meal of chicken and spinach, made with only the highest quality of ingredients, then making it from scratch is the way to go. There is nothing like eating a good homemade meal in the comforts of your home.