Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Firsts #21 : Pavlova

Nothing quite as Aussie as a ‘pav’ at Christmas ? Continuing from yesterday’s Christmas first, today’s post stays with another favourite Christmas food. The pavlova is a much loved Aussie dessert, and is often served at a Christmas celebration in a wreath shape. Before I researched the FIRST pavlova for Christmas I was prepared to enter the controversy about ownership of the ‘pav” - Australia or New Zealand?

The pavlova is named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. As the New Zealand story goes, the chef of a Wellington hotel at the time created the billowy dessert in her honor, claiming inspiration from her tutu. Australians, on the other hand, believe the pavlova was invented at a hotel in Perth, and named after the ballerina when one diner declared it to be “light as Pavlova.” (From food52 blog)

What I didn't know was that it would appear now that neither Australia nor New Zealand can lay claim to the first pavlova dessert. Besides there being many other gourmet dishes named after the famous ballerina long before her ‘down under’ tour of 1926, recent research by Dr. Andrew Paul Wood and Annabelle Utrecht (a New Zealander and an Australian, respectively), maintains that something very much like a pavlova was popular with the Austrian Habsburgs of the 18th century. They also found similar meringue, fruit and cream torte recipes among those brought to America by the German immigrants who settled in the Midwest. These researchers also claim that the 1911recipe  Strawberries Pavlova is the dessert we have come to love… 
Just to complicate things further, I think the FIRST time I ever saw a Christmas wreath pavlova was the one made by Mary Berry, from the Great British Bake Off show. I can’t say that Mary Berry was the first person to make a Christmas wreath pavlova but she must be amongst the more famous chefs. However, I note that there are you tube how to videos for Christmas pavlovas by Curtis Stone, Donna Hay amongst many others … and here is one chosen at random.

 Whatever the recipe or the variation, when you’re enjoying your Christmas pavlova, you might remember the controversy its origins have caused in the culinary world

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