Who Really Invented Pavlova? - Food History - Via WritingInTheKitchen.Com - @WritingInTheKitchen

A Brief History: Who Really Invented Pavlova?

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert that is usually topped with fresh fruit and lashings of whipped cream. It is a delightful dessert but its history is mired in a bit of controversy.

You see, Anna Pavlova, the ballerina for whom the dessert was invented – and named – visited both Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The two neighbouring countries are traditional rivals in everything from sports to sweets to Russell Crowe, and there’s been a bitter debate as to WHICH country actually invented the pavlova.

In 2010, after nearly a hundred years of this arguing back and forth, the Oxford English Dictionary said that the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in a cookbook published in New Zealand in 1927, giving the triumph of inventing this beloved dish squarely to the Kiwis, much to the collective dismay of all Australians everywhere.

Dr Helen Leach from New Zealand’s University of Otago is something of a pavlova expert. “I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared,” she says. The Australian claim centres on a recipe by Bert Sachse, a chef in Perth, Western Australia, but that is believed to date from around 1935.

However, the debate is far from being settled, with the United States jumping feet first into the fray. Dr Andrew Paul Wood, a New Zealander, and Australian Annabelle Utrecht spent two years tracing the origins of the dish; they found more than 150 pavlova-like meringue cakes served with cream and fruit prior to 1926. They “categorically state” that the modern pavlova began life as a German torte, eventually travelling to the US where it evolved into its final form.

You know what this means? We now have a new country clamouring for the honour of discovering the pavlova. As if things weren’t complicated enough, eh?

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