I’m not quite sure what the ultimate accolade is. It might be having an invention bear your name or a street in the town where you live or your name might enter the language as a byword for a certain action like “doing a…” but there are also quite a few foods named after people. It must be quite an amusing experience to order yourself off a menu. Here are a few examples. Interestingly, few of them are actually celebrities. But generally, they have become famous for the foodstuff rather than the other way round.
1. Grannie Smith
This famous crisp green apple with its distinctive slightly tart flavour is named after Grandmother Maria Smith who is credited with accidentally creating the variety.
2. Crêpes Suzette
This dish of thin pancakes soaked in orange liqueur was created by king of chefs Auguste Escoffier to honour French actress Suzanne Reichenberg. They were the dessert de rigueur in the 1970s when it was very trendy for the chef to flambé them at your table.
This must be the most well known story in culinary history and it’s accepted as fact although it might simply be a legend. The humble sandwich owes its origins to John Montagu the 4th Earl of Sandwich who was hungry but didn’t want to leave the table. He instructed a chef to produce something tasty and hearty that he could eat with his hands.
4. Cobb Salad
Named for Robert Cobb, the owner of the famous Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood where it is the signature dish. In response to a request from a VIP guest long after service was over, a dish was made from the contents of the kitchen fridge. A Cobb salad is usually made from chopped salad greens, chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, avocado, chives, Roquefort and red-wine vinaigrette.
5. Fettuccine Alfredo
Invented and served by chef Alfredo di Leilo this pasta dish became famous after Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford ate it in the inventor’s restaurant (supposedly) on their honeymoon and took the dish back to the US with them. To me this is the most implausible of all food stories. Pickfair were stratospheric celebrities back then and the thought of one of them scribbling down the recipe of a simple pasta dish to be able to make it when they got home doesn’t really ring true does it? However it happened, it was certainly a fantastic example of using celebrities in product marketing.
6. Eggs Benedict
We have this luscious breakfast dish thanks to an order mix up. Lemuel Benedict was a drunken socialite who asked for a piece of toast, bacon with hollandaise sauce and poached egg. Somehow it was delivered as muffin and ham with poached egg and finished with hollandaise and Eggs Benedict was born. This is just one version of how this dish came into being.
7. Salisbury Steak
US Physician invented these patties in 1886 to help get rid of problems like bronchitis, tuberculosis and gout. His view was if a person ate well cooked beef together with a large glass of hot water they wouldn’t ever be sick. Odd how nowadays we think that a diet rich in red meat contributes to the causes of gout.
8. Caesar Salad
Some people think that this famous salad was named after the Roman Emperor but it was actually the brainchild of a restaurateur called Caesar Cardini. Julia Child claimed she ate a Caesar salad at Cardini’s in the 1920s when she was a child.
9. Melba Toast and Peach Melba
Dame Nellie Melba has two dishes named for her and both are the creation of Auguste Escoffier. I’m not sure why a really meagre piece of toast is an honour and maybe Escoffier thought so too and made up for it by creating the peach dish.
10. Oysters Rockefeller
This is half shell oysters topped with various ingredients that are then baked or broiled. The dish was created in 1899 by Jules Alciotore, the son of the founder of New Orleans restaurant, Antoine’s. It was named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time, based on the richness of the sauce.
Foods named after people have become subsumed into everyday language and the significance of their commemoration have long since paled. If I had a dish named after me I would want something truly extravagant involving lobster or caviar or truffles. What would you want?
Top Photo Credit: larryjh1234