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Caesar, Victoria, Margherita and Benedict: The people behind legendary foods

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When people really like something, they tend to act a bit strange. Every now and then they become rather possessive and proud they even name it with their own name. But when it comes to delicious food, the origin of the name seems to get lost in the greatness of their taste. Foodpanda (www.foodpanda.ge) selected the top 10 foods that owe their name and fame to another person’s name and fame, but ultimately outshined their godfathers. So the next time you eat a pizza margherita or one of these historical foods, picture the story of its namesake and have a very British and very royal afternoon with Earl Grey tea and Victoria Sponge cake.

Earl Grey tea

Earl Grey tea and the classic Victoria sponge cake, are Britain’s most favoured foods and drinks named after historical figures. Earl Grey tea takes its name from Charles Grey, the second Early Grey, and British prime minister from 1830 until 1834. It has a distinctive bergamot flavour to it, which at the time of discovery, was seen as new and exciting. Twinings tea claims to be the home of Earl Grey tea and says: “The story goes that Earl Grey, the Georgian prime minister, was given cases of this tea by a Chinese Mandarin. He liked it so much he brought it home and asked Twinings to recreate it for him.”

Victoria sponge cake

As a child, Queen Victoria was not allowed to eat sweet things often. As a Queen, however, the case was a tad different: Every week each of her royal residencies received a consignment of pastries from the Buckingham Palace kitchens including: ’16 chocolate sponges, 12 plain sponges, 16 fondant biscuits, one box of wafers, one and a half dozen flat finger biscuits, one princess cake and one rice cake’. She reigned for 63 years and a range of foods were named after her, but it seems perfectly fitting that the most classic British teatime cake is proudly carrying her name.

Eggs Benedict

Not so surprisingly, these miraculous eggs began from a long night out. It was back in 1894, when New York socialite Lemuel Benedict returned to his hotel, the Waldorf-Astoria, after a big night of drinking and asked the maitre d’hotel for a specific remedy. His request included a piece of toast, a poached egg, bacon and hollandaise sauce. He received his order but an English muffin was substituted for toast and ham for bacon and hey presto- Eggs Benedict were born. To this day, it still remains one of the best cures for a hangover and one of the most famous brunch dishes.

Caesar Salad

No, this super popular salad does not take its name from the Roman Emperor. Foodpanda happily shares that it’s a common mistake to associate it with Julius, but in fact it was invented by Caesar Cardini, a Mexican restaurateur in Tijuana. On the weekend of July 4th in 1924 Caesar served finger foods by placing garlic-scented leaves on platters. He eventually started shredding the leaves into smaller pieces and it evolved into a salad. The salad became famous when it was a big hit for Hollywood stars who visited Tijuana. Soon it was added to the menus of many restaurants and now it has reached the top 3 salads ordered online.

 Carpaccio

If you hear Carpaccio and you think of Italian Renaissance -Botticelli, Masaccio, Giotto, Parmigianino, Bellini, Caravaggio- you’re right. This dish was named after Vittore Carpaccio, a Venetian School painter born in 1465 and was dedicated to him because the redness of the meat reminds the vivid hue of red he was known for.

Fettucine Alfredo 

It all began with Alfredo Di Lelio, chef of the very popular Alfredo’s restaurant in Rome. He invented this dish for his pregnant wife to give her strength. He prepared a sauce with cream, butter and Parmesan cheese and then added the fettucine. Buonoooo. It jumped in popularity in the United States when Hollywood couple Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford tried the recipe at Alfredo’s restaurant on their honeymoon in Rome.

Pizza Margherita

Top order in most countries, Pizza Margherita took its name from a Queen. Foodpanda researched that on a trip to Naples in 1889, Queen Margherita of Savoy, was presented with this pizza that was made with only tomato, basil and mozzarella to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Little did they know, this dish would come to represent the whole country, globally.

Pavlova

This dreamy baked white dessert made of meringue crust, whipped cream and fresh fruits such as strawberries and kiwis, is named after the Russian prima ballerina Anna Matveyevna Pavlova. The name and the recipes began soon after she toured both Australia and New Zealand in 1926. Anna Pavlova was considered the greatest ballerina of her time and her visit to New Zealand has been described as “the chief event of 1926”. It was said “she does not dance; she soars as though on wings”. This totally does justice to that light, airy dessert.

Granny Smith

Sometime in the 1800s, while working on her farm near Sydney, Australia, Maria Ana Smith found a small sapling growing where she had discarded some rotten apples days earlier. She replanted the tree and it eventually bore fruit, green apples with a tart flavor. She shared these apples with her friends and neighbours and they grew in fame.

Beef Wellington

Some say it was named after ‘the hero of Waterloo’, the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, during the Napoleonic wars. Others say it was the English name given to the French dish, beef en croute (beef in pastry) at the time. There are even reports it may have been named after Wellington’s boots. Sometimes a story can be repeated so many times it garners assumed truth. But all we at Foodpanda care about is that this amazing dish of beef tenderloin with mushrooms, pate, and a pastry crust was actually invented.

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