Tiramisu can come in many forms these days! Photo: Furkan Dokuzlar

What’s in a name?

A few weeks back, I wrote about creative names for dishes and the response was rather interesting – it went from ‘I don’t need a fancy name’ to ‘I guess we are just boring’ and so on.

But I also got asked what I think about dishes that were named after people. I love it – why not remember someone special by creating a dish in their honour?

I grew up with Mozartkugeln (a chocolate treat with nougat, marzipan, pistachio and chocolate) named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Although I don’t have a sweet tooth, I do actually like these little balls that come wrapped in red foil (you can’t eat many of them as they are really rich). Staying with sweets - the Battenberg cake (it can be a bit difficult to make if you are making it for the first time). That is named after prince Louis of Battenberg (he married one of queen Victoria’s granddaughters). Since 1884 it is a staple in English patisserie.

Garibaldi biscuits are named after the Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi – to celebrate his visit to England in 1864. The much loved Pavlova is named after a Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova – I wasn’t able to find exact sources to determine if the dish started out in Australia or New Zealand. Both places were visited by the ballerina during a tour in the early 20th century.

Earl grey tea (one of my favourite teas) is named after the 2nd earl Charles Grey who was British prime minister in 1830.

On the savoury side, we have chicken á la king named after William King of Philadelphia who is said to have invented the dish made of chicken pieces in a cream sauce which is often served in vol-au-vent pastry. Saying that, historians are not entirely sure about that one as some say it was created by a chef named George Greenwald for a couple called E. Clark King.

The famous pizza margherita was created in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889 in Naples to represent the Italian flag colours.

And let’s not forget the famous sandwich which is named after the 4th earl of Sandwich. The story goes that he kept asking for easy to eat food as he was playing cards and did not want to be interrupted to eat – so he made the sandwich famous (it did exist before his name was used to describe the two slices of bread with a filling).

Beef Stroganoff is another dish where verified sources are hard to come by as some say that the dish was invented by a French chef who worked in Russia and simply gave the name of a famous family at the time when he submitted the recipe to a cookery competition in 1891.

But a cookbook by Elena Molokhovets from 1887 pre-dates the dish which was named (translation from Russian) beef á la Stroganov with mustard.

I personally cook this dish with veal rather than beef as I think it tastes so much better but then, I wouldn’t call it Stroganoff anymore. It is actually one of my pet-hates when someone changes a classic recipe beyond recognition and still using the original name. I can’t tell the number of ‘tiramisus’ I have eaten that didn’t resemble the original in any form!

Now, I am wondering: should I create a dish in honour of the wonderful Mr T?