New Zealand wins pavlova war

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 08:14 03/12/2010
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The Oxford Dictionary says New Zealand invented the pavlova. What does this mean?

A historic wrong is righted

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Pavlova
A KIWI BEAUTY: The genius of our creation, the pavlova, is that people can add their own little touches.

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The war for the pavlova has been won.

A new listing in the Oxford English Dictionary says the meringue-based dessert was invented in New Zealand.
Australia has long tried to claim it created the Kiwi treat, named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who visited the Antipodes in the 1920s.

That claim has now been debunked after the Oxford yesterday relaunched its online edition, saying the first recorded pavlova recipe appeared in New Zealand in 1927.

The recipe was in a book called Davis Dainty Dishes, published by the Davis Gelatine company, and it was a multi-coloured jelly dish.

New Zealanders claim the meringue version also originated there, with recipes for it appearing in publications in 1928 and 1929.

The Australian claim centres on a recipe created by Bert Sachse, a chef at the Esplanade Hotel in the western city of Perth, as late as 1935.

Pavlova expert Dr Helen Leach of the University of Otago, who published a book called "The Pavlova Story", said though the pavlova was not what we know as a pavlova today the claim still stacked up.

"I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared."

She said the first true pavlova recipe was from 1929, for a "pavlova cake", published in the NZ Dairy Exporter annual.

"I am sorry that the Oxford didn't quite get the real one. Although I don't really believe in the competition, I'm more of an evolutionist," Leach said.

Australia, of course, has tried to brush off the Oxford's ruling, calling on one of its pioneering gastronomists Margaret Fulton to defend its cause.

''They can make all the claims they like, and the Oxford dictionary can go on like great academic know-it-alls, but I think most Australians would agree with me that the true pavlova belongs to Australia,'' the 86-year-old told the Sydney Morning Herald last night.

The Oxford is the only English dictionary that aims to trace the first known use of every sense of every word in the English language, hence the listing.

"Linguistically it probably isn't that important," the Oxford's Fiona Macpherson told the BBC.

"We have to be neutral about this kind of thing; we're just interested in where we can get the evidence and what it actually means."

But she conceded: "It probably does matter, at least if you're from Australia or New Zealand - it's nice to think that you might have coined or created something."

Now, however, one question still remains: Who created the lamington?

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