The history of gastronomy is a long and distinguished one. Over the centuries, many people from chefs to foodies have created and chosen a huge range of dishes and delicacies, and a surprising number of them have been Named after people – often those for whom the original recipe was perfected. From breakfasts to desserts, these have covered all courses and include a wide range of ingredients. Here are four of the most Famous, and the stories behind them.
We all know how important it is to start the day with a good breakfast, and there are few better than Eggs Benedict. This classic combination of an English muffin topped with a poached egg, hollandaise sauce and Canadian bacon was said to have been invented in New York’s Waldorf Hotel in 1894. The occasion was the arrival of a Wall Street broker called Lemuel Benedict who one morning ordered the combination hoping to cure his hangover. The hotel’s chef, Oscar Tschirky, was so impressed by the resulting dish that he added it to the menu and named it after its “inventor”.
Legend has it that we owe this popular snack to none other than John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, an English aristocrat who lived in the 18th century. The Earl was a big fan of gambling at cards and hated to have to leave the table to eat. So he was in the habit of ordering his chef to prepare slices of meat between two slices of bread to allow him to play on, uninterrupted. So we may have the fact that Montagu lived long before the advent of the online casino to thank for the fact that we have the sandwich today. Now, games like blackjack and roulette, plus a formidable selection of slot machines, are available on a more convenient and on-demand basis, allowing users to tap in and out as they choose. Perhaps if he could have paused the action, he might have popped off for a more substantial and less bread-based meal himself.
Cake lovers everywhere have been known to rave about the Battenberg, possibly without knowing about its regal origins. The cake itself is a checker pattern of pink and yellow sponge held together with strawberry jelly and wrapped in marzipan. Legend has it that it was first baked to celebrate the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, in 1884. In more recent times, it has become a favourite for commercial cake-makers due to the ease of its production in large-scale batches.
Dame Nellie Melba was perhaps the most famous and celebrated opera singer of the 19th century. Australian by birth, she travelled the world singing and, to celebrate her appearance at London’s Covent Garden, a lavish dinner was given in her honour. Perhaps the first-ever celebrity chef, Auguste Escoffier devised this peach, raspberry and ice cream dessert, which is still very much enjoyed today, especially for the occasion.
Of course, there are many more dishes named after the famous, and not so famous – but sample any for them yourself and you'll surely agree that few are more delicious than these.
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