RESPECT IS A WELL-SEASONED SAUCE

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The Independent Culture
The dedicated dish is ripe for a come-back. Think of Melba Toast, Peches Melba, Chicken a la King, Lobster Newburg or Eggs Benedict.

The most enduring may be Melba Toast, named in honour of Dame Nellie Melba, the great Australian soprano. It was dedicated to her by Auguste Escoffier, one of the world's most prolific chefs, and the man who built up the reputation of the Savoy Hotel with Cesar Ritz in its early years.

Melba Toast is a slice of thin bread toasted on both sides, slit in two, then toasted again on the white sides. It has the texture of a rusk. Peches Melba is altogether more delicious; stoned fresh peaches sprinkled with caster sugar, served on top of vanilla ice-cream with sweetened raspberry puree.

Escoffier came from a long French tradition where it was common to pay respect to various patrons. These ranged from kings and queens, dukes and duchesses and clerics, with such dishes as Poule au Pot and Chicken Louis Philippe (for kings of France), Sauce Richelieu (after the powerful cardinal), Sole Grimaldi (after the ruling family of Monaco), and Strawberries Romanov (the Russian ruling dynasty) to composers, writers and actresses with Tournedos Rossini, Potage Colette, Sole Colbert and Consomme Sarah Bernhardt.

The practice was adopted in the US in the 1830s by two Swiss-born brothers who ran New York's Delmonico's. Among the customers they chose to honour were a Mr Ben Wenburg and a Mr Foxhall Keene. Posterity has not been kind to them since, after a falling-out, Delmonico's renamed the dishes Lobster Newburg and Chicken a la King.

Eggs Benedict was another New York dish. It was created as a hangover cure at New York's Waldorf Astoria for Mr Samuel Benedict, although you'd need the constitution of an ox to tackle a plate of poached eggs in hollandaise sauce on a hangover.

Caesar Salad sounds like it should be a dedicated dish, but it isn't. The salad is named after the chef Caesar Cardini, who invented it at short notice when a large party descended on his hotel in Tijuana, on the California- Mexico border. He used the only ingredients he had left in his kitchen: cos lettuce, eggs, anchovies, oil and Parmesan cheese.

One of the most renowned of all the dedicated dishes, if it can be so classified, is Iman Bayaldi, which has its origins in 15th-century Istanbul. It is most probably dedicated to the memory of the Ottoman King Mahmud II, who established court cooking (as well as a harem) in the famous Topkapi Palace. The dish - baked aubergine with a rich and sensuous stuffing - translates as "the emperor fainted". With delight, it's assumed.

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