On International Women’s Day: The dishes that would not exist without women
March 8 is International Women’s Day, giving us the perfect reason to ask the chefs at LSG Sky Chefs which classic recipes can be traced back to women and which dishes, although not created by one or not having a traceable origin story, bear a woman’s name.
Tarte Tatin (pictured above): The classic French apple pie was – at least, according to legend – first an accident: in the 19th century, the Tatin sisters were said to have prepared a tart, which then fell to the ground and landed on the side covered with apple slices. To salvage it, they added fresh dough and pushed it back into the oven. Today, the Tarte Tatin is baked on copper bases and deliberately overturned to reveal the caramel layer created at the bottom after.
Madeleines: In the 18th century, a cook named Madeleine, who worked at the court of the Duke of Lorraine, invented a pastry made of fatty dough with whipped egg, sugar, a bit of flour and butter. The trick: before baking, the dough is placed in a moulded sheet with an icing bag and thus gets its characteristic shape. It is said to be named after her.
Spaghetti Puttanesca: Literally translated, this spicy tomato pasta dish, which originated in southern Italy, means “spaghetti in the style of a prostitute”. It is not clear where the name comes from. One theory is that the recipe was very popular with prostitutes in Italy in the 1950s because, due to government regulations, they were only allowed to leave the brothel once a week for groceries, and the pasta’s main ingredients – anchovies, olives, carrots and garlic – have a long shelf life.
Many other dishes, however, take on women’s names for various reasons. These include:
Pear Helene: The recipe comes from one man – namely master chef Auguste Escoffier. However, he named the dessert, a pear poached in lute sugar and served on vanilla ice cream with poached violets and chocolate sauce, after Helena, the protagonist in Jacques Offenbach’s operetta “La belle Hélène”.
Peach Melba: Escoffier also dedicated his poached peach on vanilla ice cream covered with raspberry puree to a dame: he created the dessert for the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba and named it after her a few years later.
Pommes Anna (or Potatoes Anna): The origin of the name of the French potato casserole, in which thinly sliced potatoes are layered in a circular pan, is not entirely clear. One theory involves the admiration its inventor had for the actress Anna Judic. Other sources recall a regular woman named Anna who helped create the recipe in Paris in the 19th century.
Pavlova: The cake, made from a meringue filled with cream and fruit, comes from either Australia or New Zealand. What is certain, however, is that it was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova following her visit to both countries in the 1920s.
Queen’s soup: This creamy soup cooked with a veal or chicken stock, and is often served with chicken breast, was a festive dish for Queen’s Day, April 30, in the Netherlands. Since 2014, however, after the ascension of King Willem-Alexander, the first king in 123 years, the dish is still enjoyed on King’s Day, which now falls on April 27.
Crêpe Suzette: Legend has it that the flambéed crêpes served in orange sauce was made during a visit to Monaco by the British Crown Prince. It is said that the liqueur used to prepare the sauce at the table unintentionally caught fire and the unfortunate apprentice skillfully maneuvered the mishap – by spontaneously adapting the recipe and selling it to the monarch as a new dish. According to the story, the enthusiastic prince suggested naming it after his companion Suzette.
Croque Madame: Top a Croque Monsieur, a cheese and ham sandwich baked with brioche bread, with a fried egg and it becomes a Croque Madame. Why? There is unfortunately no reason for it.