Where does the name of some French desserts come from?
The waiter just said : « Un petit dessert peut-être ? »
This sounds very inviting but the card of the restaurant isn’t very explicit about the French desserts… Maybe you already know some classics such as “crème brûlée”, “mousse au chocolat”, “moelleux au chocolat” (how difficult to pronounce it!), even “tarte aux fraises” or “profiterolles” … But do you know that some French desserts names have their origin either from a woman or from a country?
- The famous and innovative French chef Georges August Escoffier from Ritz and Savoy named 3 of his creations according to women:
He met Nellie Melba, the famous Australian opera singer at Covent Garden in London, and originally called “peach with a swan” this delicious dessert of fresh peaches served over vanilla ice cream because Nelly performed in an opera featuring a beautiful boat in the shape of a swan.
Suzette was Prince of Wales girlfriend in Paris at the beginning of 20th century, and as the ordered crêpe dropped, the waiter arranged it with orange juice and Grand Marnier.
Poire Belle Hélène
This delicious dessert was created and named in 1864 in Paris after the successful opera by Offenbach “La Belle Hélène”. Escoffier got the idea to poach tears and to pour melted chocolate on it.
- Some names have different origins:
has nothing to do with an omelette with eggs. It is a French dessert composed of vanilla ice with above it a kind of white meringue (snow like in Norway) and on which should be poured some alcohol to be burned from the waiter
Baba au rhum
this is a speciality of Nancy since Stanislas Leczinski, the famous polnish king who became King of Lorraine. He used to drop his polnish cake in a sirop made with rhum and named it first Ali-Baba, which became baba upon arrival in Paris by Stohrer (ancestor of the pastry shop rue de Montorgueil in Paris 1).
the legend says that it was created accidentally by two sisters Tatin (owners of an hotel in the middle of France) : one of them forgot the apples burning in butter and sugar. She tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on the top of it instead and put the whole pan in the oven. She served the tart to guests after having turned out the upside down tart.
was created in 1910 by a pastry chef Louis Durand of Maisons Lafitte (near Paris) to celebrate the bicycle race between Paris and Brest. This pastry is composed of pâte à chou in form of a wheel filled in two and filled with hazelnut praline cream
- I cannot forget another famous pastry…
another cookie and specialty of Lorraine, whose name is always associated with French writer “Marcel Proust”. We even now are used to say “la madeleine de Proust”…
But this is another story !
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