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Pavlova Wars: New Zealand Reclaims its Once Stolen National Dessert

Pavlova Wars: New Zealand Reclaims its Once Stolen National Dessert

(photo from flickr user avlxyz)

Kathy Marks | The Independent

New Zealand’s Prime Minister is irritated by Australia’s culinary thievery.

New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, John Key, faces a host of diplomatic challenges as he adjusts to the job. But of them all, the one exercising him most at the moment is the weighty matter of the provenance of a meringue dessert topped by cream and tropical fruit.

Mr Key is irritated by Australia’s long-standing claim to have invented the pavlova, which he dismissed yesterday as “ridiculous”. He urged his neighbour and ally to acknowledge the dessert’s New Zealand’s origins – and to renounce other treasured New Zealand exports, such as the legendary racehorse Phar Lap, to which Australia also lays claim.

New evidence suggests that where the pavlova is concerned, the conservative Prime Minister may be right.

Australians have long believed it was created in 1935 by a chef called Bert Sachse, at Perth’s Esplanade Hotel, in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, pictured, who visited Australia in 1926 and again in 1929.

However, Helen Leach, an academic at New Zealand’s Otago University, has found a pavlova recipe in a 1933 Mothers’ Union cookbook, and another in a 1929 rural magazine. Both call the dessert a pavlova, stipulate the same ingredients used by modern cooks and recommend the same cooking method.

Historians point out that Anna Pavlova ventured across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand on both her visits.

While Australians consider the dessert one of their national dishes, Mr Key told Australian Associated Press: “It’s totally ridiculous for Australians to claim that they have pavlova, or Phar Lap, or any of those iconic New Zealand items. Everyone knows that they’re ours and for Australia to claim ownership of them is quite inappropriate.”