Füsun A.



Montréal, CANADA
January 12
Freelance Writer - jack of all genres;master of none.
warm and genuine
I divorced my full time career of teaching after 25 years, because meanwhile I fell in love with freelance writing. Ever since, I decided to legitimize my ten-year fling which started in the new millennium. Author of: "WILL OF MY OWN - A Memoir" Available at all major book outlets. For a preview please visit: http://www.dictionmatters.com/


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 12, 2011 6:23AM

Gals 'n Guys of Gastronomy

Rate: 60 Flag

                Dame Melba Dame Melba

As history shows, some of the gastronomic creations that conquer our tastes as well as our fancy are results of either pure coincidence or sheer luck. Often times, what we have come to taste and love is the outcome of an error, forgetfulness or outright dare peppered with a sense of culinary adventure. Yet, whatever the origin and whoever the person that created gastronomic history, these foods have managed to captivate our senses and immortalized their creators by honoring them in the most respected manner.

From Graham Crackers and Garibaldi Biscuits, to Beef Wellington and Reuben Sandwiches, many of the foods we see in respectable restaurant menus or try in our own kitchens are named after people who are credited by either inspiring, or creating them.

For instance, fettuccine and Alfredo are a pair of inseparable twins. Although earlier semblances of this silky cream sauce sinfully draped around a type of flat, thick noodles appropriately named “linguini” existed in Italy for many years, the version created in 1920's by the restaurant owner Alfredo di Lello became very popular. Many celebrities were attracted to Alfredo's restaurant. Among these were the (Canadian-born) Mary Pickford and her second husband Douglas Fairbanks who were honeymooning in Rome, and fell in love with Fettuccine Alfredo. When they returned to their home in the US, they asked for the same recipe and thus popularized it in the new world.

A basic white sauce used as the base for other sauces, the Bechamel Sauce was named to flatter Louis de Bechamel, marquis de Nointel (1603-1703) and a courtier to King Louis XIV. Made with butter, flour and milk, Bechamel can change into Mornay to accompany fish, or cheese sauce to enhance many vegetables dishes.

Considered to be the king of salads, Caesar Salad was of course not created by the ill-fated Roman emperor himself; but by a humble restauranteur and chef named Caesar Cardini in Tijuana, Mexico. Today, almost eight decades after its creation, it is served in many restaurants and homes as a traditional salad. Oh, a drop of flavor variation would be good here : The original version of Caesar salad did not have anchovies as an actual ingredient. They came from the Worchestershire sauce that chef Cardini added to what he had in his kitchen to offer to the Prince of Wales who was stuck in Tijuana due to weather conditions !.

Another popular dish and comfort food by many is the Chicken Tetrazzini. Made with egg noodles, mushrooms and cubed chicken pieces in a cream sauce topped with cheese, it was named after the Italian soprano Luisa Tetrazzini who lived from 1871 to 1940.

Could anyone have guessed that Melba Toast a crisp, dry and thinly sliced toast served with soups or salads or topped with various toppings, was named after Dame Nellie Melba, which was the stage name for Helen Porter Mitchell? It is believed that the toast dates back to 1897 when the singer was very ill and this type of toast became the main staple of her diet.

Another food created by the renowned French chef Auguste Escoffier in honor of Dame Melba is the Peach Melba, a dessert made with vanilla ice cream, peaches and a sauce raspberry sauce. In the late 1800's Escoffier created this luscious dessert for the popular Australian opera singer who was healthy and had a good appetite. It's made with two peach halves that have been poached in syrup and cooled. Each peach half is placed hollow side down on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream, then topped with Melba sauce made with raspberries, redcurrant jelly, sugar and cornstarch and sometimes crowned with whipped cream and sliced almonds. Mmm, the stuff that makes angels sing.

               Anna Pavlova Anna Pavlova

But Dame Melba was not the only inspirer of heavenly desserts. Pavlova, a light and fluffy meringue dessert was named after the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. The sweetened meringue is baked at a very low heat for a long time, not to brown but to dry out and become very crispy before it becomes an edible vessel for whipped cream and fruit. Although it is named after the famous Russian ballerina, the originator of the dessert is not known for sure because of the great rivalry between Australians and New Zealanders who both claim that the recipe was born in their countries.

Not all famous dishes were born to a life of established glory. Some, like Sacher Torte, came to being under stress. Recognizable by the name of its creator written on a rich chocolate ganache cover, the famous torte is the creation of Franz Sacher (1816-1907) who, in his second year of baker's apprenticeship concocted this chocolate cake for the Lord of Metternich, because the latter commanded, "For ye shall not bring shame on me tonight !" Thus was born the glory of Sacher Torte.

Sacher torte 

In talking about foods inspired by eclectic characters, who can leave out the 1700 century English nobleman who ordered his servant to bring him two slices of bread with a piece of roast meat between them, so that he would not have to disrupt his card came? And the result? You guessed it. Next time, as we bite into our sandwiches whether they are made with whole grain or sun-dried panini, let's not forget to thank the Earl of Sandwich for his ingenious creation that fills millions of lunch bags.

Last but not least,  Tarte Tatin, a product of serendipity, is an upside down apple tart with a layer of caramelized sugar which distinguishes it from other types of upside down pastries. The result of an almost cooking disaster, this tarte became a signature dish at the Hotel Tatin, run by the sisters Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, in Lamotte-Beuvron, France. The lasting fame of the pastry is attributed to the restauranteur Louis Vaudable who, after tasting the the tart on his visit to Sologne, made this dessert a permanent item in his restaurant, Maxim's of Paris.

Food origins which provoke the deepest interest have always been the ones that fascinate my imagination the most. So as we leave another winter behind and look towards spring and a new season of birth and renewal of hopes with Easter preparations in the kitchen, besides baking the traditional fare, let's see if anyone of us will take a little detour and express our thanks by remembering the fascinating origins of these dishes to thank to their inspirers or creators who are now part of culinary history.


Reuben Sandwich


1 Tablespoon butter

4 slices rye bread

4 slices deli sliced corned beef

4 slices Swiss cheese

1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing


Preheat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat.

Lightly butter one side of bread slices. Spread non-buttered sides with Thousand Island dressing. On 4 bread slices, layer 1 slice Swiss cheese, 2 slices corned beef, 1/4 cup sauerkraut and second slice of Swiss cheese. Top with remaining bread slices, buttered sides out.

Grill sandwiches until both sides are golden brown, about 15 minutes per side. Serve hot.                                                                                   Serves  2

spring blossoms in Wilmington-2010 

Füsun Atalay ~ Copyright © Will of my Own - 2011  


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Good Lord girl, I think I must have gained five pounds just reading this entry. Dare I say it...."This is certainly foood for thought,"
There. I said it, now I gotta go find something to cook for breakfast.
Fun! Fusun... who needs the Salon Kitchen Challenge when we still have you as the pace car for Foodie Tuesday. Cover piece for sure... with cherry blossoms.
Caesar would be my favorite, but I would happily eat anything in this post!
Love to make tarte tatin so it's great fun to learn this history. Great photos, too.
Thank you, Fusun. I love the narrative and visuals you gave us. Great food history lesson, well told. :)
Fascinating background, Fusie. That Reuben looks....mmmMMMMmmmm.
You are so smart! Lovely history lesson and so important to honor the food we create and eat. Thank you for this post.
This is a delicious piece of history! Thanks for sharing!
Scrumptious post Fusun. Great context and collection of characters. Happy Spring to you too!
We were so lucky that the Earl of Southampton didn't invent the sandwich - just too many syllables and I don't think it would have caught on. A fascinating culinary tour, with words!
I just got up and its 632 am and now I am hungry hahaha.
YUM Fusun!
rated with hugs
Beautiful post & photos...especially the cherry blossoms!
I am going to look up the recipe for Sacher Torte! Yum! I'll pass on your recipe for a Reuben to my son. It's his favorite!
Thanks for the history lesson~
The story and the recipes are amazing. I'll take that Ruben to go please. -R-
What a fabulous post, well deserved EP. Although, I think you should get one every post. What a wealth of foodie information and delicious writing.
rated with love
OK, this is going to make my bowl of breakfast cereal look pathetic!
Dishes with names. Now it they had addresses as well, we could write fan letters.
Thanks, my foodie and non-foodie OSers alike. Food history has always fascinated me. I was also lucky to try many of these in their place of origins before I had my son and daughter - then duplicated many, such as Sacher torte and tarte Tatin to name a couple.
Fascinating post, Fusun!
The way to this mans heart is through his stomach. Bring on the food.
Absolutely delightful! I love food and cooking and learning about ingredients, but the history of how dishes came about just tickles me! I knew some (Pavlova, for instance), but most, I did not. Thank you for a really unique and enjoyable post, Fusun!
Will - Thanks for reminding. I'll look it up. There are others too.

Toritto - I'm afraid Lean Cuisine may be too lean for these recipes, but you can get them at restaurants. Thank you for your typo notice.

Angela - Good to see you ! I knew how to get your attention ? ♥
Thank you,
I so enjoy when i can sign into this site and find so many wonderful new recipes, and the history behind my favorite thing; cooking:)

I appreciate the time and effort that it took you to do this post. Great photos:) well written

Thank you....

Now, like the others have stated, you have made me hungry, I must also venture into the kitchen and make me some breakfast:)
Yay! Rubens! I like the food history bit too.

I make one with toast instead of grilled because it's easier to digest. But, grilled is better IMHO if you can hack it.

Sandwiches in general -

The Duke of Sandwich's so-called invention is a bit of an Anglocentric fancy.

A guy named Akiba made a "sandwich" of horseradish, apple-nut-wine relish (called Charoset) between two pieces of matzoh. He wrote about this around 100 or 110 AD. This "sandwich" is still part of the traditional Passover Seder. Jesus would have had this for Last Supper if only he had been born a few generations later. Then we could have said that Jesus invented the Holy Trinity Sandwich (Ham, Cheese and Rye). Would have been cool or what!

Not to mention the medieval Eiropean custom of eating meat and onions on a trancher - that makes the open-face sandwich.
I had the best peach melba of my life in San Francisco. My grandma used to serve us waldorf salad with our evening meal. I assume is was first served at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, but I couldn't say for sure. Then there is Watergate salad, as well. Great post, Fusun--rich and calorie-laden.
Sigh, and I am supposed to be doing a little cleansing this week.... I guess I will have to put it off, again...
I have probably eaten every one of the dishes you described without ever pondering their monikers. The peach melba has my juices flowing big time. Congratulations on the EP!

Great history lesson. So I have Mary Pickford to thank for my Thursday night tradition? Very cool. I painted a nice portrait of her years ago. I must have had an intuition about her.

Great post.
Fascinating foodie history lesson...yummy recipe too. Thanks for this
Oh my gosh, I'm hungry. This Cottage cheese is just isn't cutting it. Thanks for this gastronomically good post! ;)
Wonderful information, so interesting!!!
charming stories. do you have a simple recipe for sacher torte?
That was fantastic! Now I think I have to make a trip to Corky & Lenny's for a monstrously big, bad for me reuben!

r. because I love posts that combine two of my favorite things...good food and fun facts. :)
Mmm, love that picture of my favorite sandwich! (Beautiful post) ~r
Thanks for the fun and fascinating post!
This was really interesting. The history of food is not something I would have ever thought to research, unless it had to do with anthropology. But, I also found the rat menu Alyssa had up quite interesting too. Thanks for sharing.
Congratulations on a well deserved EP! Those pink blossoms are fabulous, too!

Another gushing OS commenter.
mmmmmmmmmmmmm on all levels!
I love reading about the history of food -- and to think about how some of our favorites were conceived! I wonder how many have been lost through the years? Great post!
Here's a suggestion. To really experience how a sandwich started out, just get some really nice bread and some roast beef, just a smear of butter, and slap them together. There's something wonderful about the simplicity, compared to some of the over-engineered assemblies of glop given the name "sandwich" today. You can taste the bread and you can taste the meat, no more, no less.
A splendid essay, enjoyed best with a Rob Roy.
Luscious post on all levels. Another well deserved EP.
Off I go to dream of Your Reuben.
mmm mmm good! So delicious! I had a Reuben a couple of weeks ago from Applebees, it was wonderful! The desserts have me in a tizzie, but I must go fix my tuna sandwich for dinner. Thank you for the history lesson!
Lovely fare, and good to see Australia rubbing shoulders there ( we believe the first pav, as we call them, was created by chef Hansche in Perth, WA, in 1935 ) - New Zealanders merely added slices of Kiwi fruit. Thanks, Fusun - fascinating.
Fascinating history lesson. Really enjoyed it, but now I'm hungry. Great alliterative title too. Thanks.
Years ago I adopted the then-pathetic Wikipedia "List of foods named after people" and did an insanely obsessive search to enlarge it, so this subject is dear to my heart. I can't even explain why it fascinates me, but I'm glad to know I'm not the only one. I still remember Veal Prince Orloff from Betty White/Sue Anne Niven serving it on the Mary Tyler Moore Show decades ago.
Love this! Reubens and cole slaw! Yum!

Dogwood blossoms?! Gorgeous and so Springtime in floral perfection.
Awesome post, Fusun, simply beautiful. R
Oooh, I am inspired to make Pavlova! Thank you for this yummy post...you always make me hungry, Fusun! xox
You taught me something AND made me hungry! :) Yummy post fusun!

Fantastic!! I had no idea about any of these except the Earl of Sandwich.
I would like to try a piece of the chocolate cake with my tea about now. Wonderful post!
Wow, this post had me salivating. I'll take a Caesar salad followed by sacher tort. -Erica
This is an utterly delicious post! Hard to beat a combination of history and great food!
Fusun, I just heard on tonight's news that Americans spend the LEAST time cooking every day (30 minutes average) and Turks hold the world record for daily food prep (74 minutes a day.) So, you certainly bear this out! Great post.
Mary Ann - I heard that too - in passing and wasn't sure if I heard right. Thanks for verifying it for me.

Thanks to all my readers who have shown interest in this piece and left comments here.
::grumble, grumble::

That's my tummy talking right now! I need to come your direction for a visit - I like the way you 'viva' lady! :)
I have changed my OS name to mmmmmmmmmmmmmhold after reading this lovely essay! (Baked cinnamon bread in your honor today, my dear!)
Have to say, Fusun, you didn't strike me as a Reuben sandwich type!
Interesting fusion of food and storytelling. rated
a so well-deserved cover piece! r.
Congrats on the EP! R
So glad I didn't get to this last night. I was so hungry, I asked Chicago Guy to order a sandwich for me. Great job here.
Thanks for this, Fusan. Tarte Tatin is my absolute fave dessert and now I know more about it!