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bananas fosterFoods Named After People: Which Really Came First?
(Part One)
by Marjorie Dorfman

Did you ever wonder about how many foods there were in the world that are named after people, like Bananas Foster, and vice versa? No, well maybe now is the time to think about it, for there are many, so many in fact that we will need three articles to cover most of them. Read on, no matter how familiar you may be with the alphabet.

For those who might at first think this is a conundrum piece akin to the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, allow me to say that you are probably right. I am not sure of many things, but I can tell you that there are an amazing number of foods and drinks out there that have been named after famous people, so many in fact that we will only tackle those foods and drinks beginning with the letters A-F in this particular piece. Why this is important is up for grabs, but I can assure: wit, humor, research and a bit of education along this rocky path to useless understanding. Read on, if you dare.

queen victoria
Prince Albert Filet of Beef:
This method of preparing a beef filet was named in honor of Queen Victoria’s significant other, Prince Albert. It is considered a part of classic English cuisine and appears on menus in British hotels and restaurants. It is a pounded beef filet, rolled around a filling of pate de foie gras (poor little duck) and then wrapped with bacon and braised in stock.

Fettucini Alfredo:
Alfredo di Lelio was an early 20th century Italian chef who invented this dish for his wife that cardiologists today refer to as a "heart attack on a plate." He invented sometime between 1914-1920 and served it in his restaurant in Rome. The dish became famous when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks praised it to the skies after their visit to Rome in 1927. The original recipe contained no cream sauce, only several types of butters.

Baldwin Apple:
While working as a surveyor and engineer on the Middlesex Canal in Massachusetts, Colonel Loammi Baldwin (1745-1807) found this apple between 1784 and 1793. In between, he served as a commander of militia at the Battle of Lexington during the American Revolution.

eggs benedict
Eggs Benedict:
There are two stories associated with this delicious breakfast. One version credits Lemuel Benedict, a New York stockbroker who went for breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria one day in 1894 while suffering from a hangover. He asked for a special dish of toast, bacon, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce on the side. As the story goes, Oscar the maitre d’ adapted it for the Waldorf menu by substituting English muffin and ham, adding truffles and christening it after the sodden stockbroker.

Another version dates back to 1893 when Charles Ranhofer, head chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant, created the dish especially for Mr. and/or Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, New York stockbroker and socialite. A Germanic variation of the dish exists as well named Eggs Benedict XVI after Pope Benedict XVI. His version calls for rye bread and sausage or saubrauten replacing the English muffins and Canadian bacon.

Bing Cherry:
This cherry was developed around 1875 by a horticulturist from Oregon named Seth Luelling. His assistant, a Manchurian named Bing, was immortalized for his help (but he couldn’t sing like another Bing of later years).

Caesar Salad:
This salad has absolutely nothing to do with the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar except perhaps as the source of the creator’s first name. Caesar Cardini immigrated to San Diego after World War One and opened a restaurant in Tijuana to avoid the prohibition laws in the US. He is thought to have originated this dish without anchovies in 1924. Others claim to be the salad’s inventor including Cardini’s business partner, his brother and one of his young chef apprentices who swore it was his mother’s recipe.

Vicomte Francois René de Chateaubriand (1768-1848) was a French writer and diplomat who once served as ambassador to England. Chateaubriand refers to both a cut and a recipe for steak created round 1822.

mandarin orange
Although this fruit may have originated centuries ago in Asia, this natural mutation of the mandarin orange is named for Pére Pierre Clément, a French monk living in North Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. It is not known whether he found the orange in its natural state or created a hybrid of the mandarin and Seville oranges. It is known this fruit bears no relation to the miner’s daughter who drowned in that American folk song, Clementine.

Cobb Salad:
The owner of the Brown Derby restaurant, Robert H. Cobb, is said to have invented this salad in 1836-37 as a late night snack for himself.

DuBarry Cream Soup:
Madame DuBarry, consort of Louis XV of France, had several dishes named after her, often involving cauliflower as in this soup. The cauliflower is said to have been a reference to her most elaborate powdered wigs.

Salad à la Dumas:
The noted French author, Alexander Dumas, was a favorite of Delmonico’s chef, Charles Ranhofer. There are also timbales, stewed woodcock and mushrooms named after the creator of the Three Musketeers and the Man In The Iron Mask.

Mamie Eisenhower Fudge:
This candy, unique for its addition of Marshmallow Crème (or Fluff), was named after the wife of Dwight D. Eisenhower when she revealed that it was a White House favorite during her husband’s term in office (1952-1960).

Bananas Foster:
The dessert, topped with dark rum, banana liqueur and vanilla ice cream, was created in 1951 and named after Richard Foster, long time friend of proprietor Owen Brennan and customer of Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans.
The rest of the alphabet will soon follow. Stay tuned for Part Two of Foods Named After People.

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Don't miss this excellent book:

The Earth Knows My Name:
Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic America

by Patricia Klindienst

The Earth Knows My Name

Beauty and humor in a set of profiles of 15 valiant and thoughtful gardeners intent on preserving their native birthright and on restoring and protecting their adopted land. Woven into these stories are wide-ranging details of agricultural history: how to make blue corn piki bread, the fragrance of the sweet-sticky-pumpkin flower brought by refugees from Cambodia. Klindienst's writing shines when recounting her conversations with farmers. This book's broad scope touches on the best of nature writing, singing the rhythm of growth in both plants and people.

What's In A Name?
An article from Food Processing magazine

by Elizabeth Brewstar

This digital document is an article from Food Processing, published by Putman Media, Inc. on September 1, 1998. It runs 480 words and is delivered in HTML format and available in your Digital Locker immediately after purchase. You can view it with any web browser. Very interesting!

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