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An Open Letter to Chef Damian Cardone

An Open Letter to Chef Damian Cardone


You may have seen reports last week about Chef Damian Cardone, who boasted in early March on his Facebook profile about misleading gluten-free customers multiple times. "People ask me for gluten free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, Then I serve serve em our pasta, Which I make from scratch with high gluten flour," the chef was reported writing on his profile before it was removed. "And you know what? nothing, NOTHING! ever happens!" His comments kicked off a firestorm of articles and criticism.

I feel proud to have recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of the last time I knowingly ingested gluten. When I first gave it up, I went through withdrawal, I bargained (“Just let me have a bite of your sandwich”), I felt left out, I refused to give up beer, I got frustrated, and relapsed again and again. Finally, after a two week-long cold, complete with backaches, depression, and serious bloating, I decided fooling myself wasn’t worth it anymore. I found the chef's blatant disdain troubling enough to merit this open letter.

Chef Cardone, I’ve worked in restaurant, catering, and test kitchens. I’ve worked in a food truck. I’ve been a server. My mother is a professional chef. If I absolutely had to have a health condition, I would never pick this one. Given the choice, I might even take something harder to deal with that would allow me to still eat sandwiches, because there are some really amazing ones out there and I miss them. Wouldn’t you?

Six months after I gave up gluten for good, my whole life changed. Anyone who shares my experience will tell you the same thing. You’ve never experienced glutenitis, my affectionate term for the miserable, exhausted haze I live in when I unknowingly eat something containing gluten.

As my immune system flatlines and my insides rebel, my hair falls out, and my hands and arms itch uncontrollably. I have vivid nightmares all night long and can’t wake up in the morning. Several days later, like clockwork, I develop the telltale tickle in the back of my throat that signifies the beginning of a cold severe enough keep me out of work for days. And guess what? I’m on the low end of the gluten intolerance spectrum. Many peoples’ symptoms are worse.

I don’t have the statistics to back up my case because definitive studies are still being done. For the time being, it will have to suffice to say that if you can’t have gluten, you can’t have it. Nobody pretends to have gluten intolerance. Everyone likes sandwiches, bagels, noodles, waffles, and pizza. If you give up those things and feel at least 100% better, you have it. I, a born-and-bred New Yorker, gave up pizza, bagels, and half the things on brunch menus and in Chinese restaurants across the city. It wasn't something I wanted to do. Trust me.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


One of the Most Contentious Desserts in History

The egg whites glistened in the bowl.

The whisk thrashed air and sugar through the mix, turning the clear liquid into a silky white foam.

Heat made it hard on the outside and soft in the middle.

Whipped cream, passion fruit, and banana made it Pavlova.

The transformation was complete.

Why contentious? Get an Australian and a New Zealander in a room and ask them — both will claim the Pavlova was invented in their country.

Food writer, TV personality, and all-round food celebrity Matt Preston wrote,

Sure, Australian chef Bert Sachse, from Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, might have made this baked meringue dessert famous in 1935 as a homage to ballerina Anna Pavlova (who, some six years earlier, had stayed at the hotel on her second Australian tour in 1929). The trouble, however, is that the same meringue homages to the Russian prima ballerina had already appeared in New Zealand in 1929.

Furthermore, when Pavlova first toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926, recipes for topping a fat pat of soft-hearted but crunchy-crusted meringue with billowing whipped cream and fresh fruit first appeared in a New Zealand recipe book — even if they weren’t named after her. Sachse himself admitted that his dish was actually based on a meringue recipe of New Zealand origin — not that any other Australian ever wants to admit that.

The truth, and I say this as an Australian, is that Pavlova wasn’t really an Australian or New Zealand recipe. Meringue Cakes were a big food craze all around the world in the early part of the 20th century and many of them were delicious. The pavlova is a particularly fluffy and sweet version. Other recipes included different substances in the meringue base to create a denser, more cake-like texture.

My wife did a meringue cake last Christmas with rose water, halva, and pistachio nuts folded through the meringue mix, and topped it with edible rose petals and pomegranate molasses. It was rich and wonderful.

Last week I made a flourless chocolate cake that used a meringue base with chocolate ganache folded through it — yet another variation on the meringue cake.

As for the Pavlova — maybe Anna Pavlova enjoyed it so much in New Zealand that she requested one when she got to Perth.

A quick tip for good meringues: always use old eggs. The water content of fresh eggs will make your meringue foam a bit sloppy and you’ll struggle to achieve soft peaks. Eggs can easily last up to six weeks, without spoiling, so there’s little risk to keeping them around for a while. Put them in the refrigerator for a week, or buy the eggs in the supermarket that are approaching their best before date. For best results, let your eggs come up to room temperature before whipping them, and ensure your whisk is spotless — any traces of oil will compromise your foam. A pinch of cream of tartar will prevent you over beating them.

Copyright © Damian Clarke 2020.

On Medium, Damian Clarke writes for The Bad Influence and An Idea, 97 Things I Learned as a Stay-at-Home Dad and Our Albion. In the outside world, he writes for The Fifth Estate, The Green List, various other publications from time-to-time, and a range of corporate clients.


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