History of Food

History of Food

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

National Peach Melba Day January 13

Today is National Peach Melba Day

Peach Melba is the exquisite combination of peaches and raspberry sauce with vanilla ice cream.  Even as I write this I find myself salivating.

As with many well earned French desserts, this luscious dessert was invented during the Victorian Era in 1892 or 1893 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel, London, to honor the Australian soprano, Nellie Melba.

It was not unusual to name well crafted dishes after particular public people.  Such is the case of Nellie Melba.  In 1892, Nellie Melba was performing in Wagner's opera Lohengrin at Covent Garden. The Duke of Orléans gave a dinner party to celebrate her triumph.

As with Victorian French chefs, Escoffier wanted to make a particular impressionable debut of his newly created dessert.   To display it, he used an ice sculpture of a swan, which is featured in the opera. The swan carried peaches which rested on a bed of vanilla ice cream and which were topped with spun sugar.

Not uncharacteristic a perfectionist, Escoffier was continually tweaking his creations.  In 1900 Escoffier created a new version of the dessert. For the occasion of the opening of the Carlton Hotel, where he was head chef, 

Escoffier omitted the ice swan and topped the peaches with raspberry purée. Other versions of this dessert use pears, apricots, or strawberries instead of peaches and/or use raspberry sauce or melted red currant jelly instead of raspberry pureé.

 use raspberry sauce or melted red currant jelly instead of raspberry purée.[2]

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