Sunday, June 7, 2009

Even More Pavlova

I seem to be doing New Zealand’s work of cultural differentiation from Australia for her. Yesterday I found that The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary, edited by Tony Deverson and Graeme Kennedy for the New Zealand Dictionary Centre (2005) has finally hit the shelves of the Starr Main Reference Room in the Sterling Memorial Library here at Yale. However, I was shocked to find that they ascribe pavlova, n. (p. 832) simply to “orig. NZ & Aust.” I feel strongly that this is technically incorrect. My own researches have clearly demonstrated that the canonical pavlova was named in New Zealand, and co-opted soon afterwards by the envious Depression-era housewives of Australia. In her exhaustive The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History, Helen Leach has evidently gone into same the question in far more exhaustive detail, but thankfully she appears to concur. I have not yet had an opportunity to read her book, but I am assured that my copy is on its way from A1 Books in the village of Westham in East Sussex. In due course, therefore, I should say that unless we uncover unequivocal Australian evidence in the form of some pre-1929 smoking meringue “orig. NZ & Aust” should definitely read “orig. NZ,” punktpoint, basta così. Meanwhile, pavlova, n., the brave promotional gambit of Davis Gelatine (a rather sordid jelly concocted with inter alia milk and orange juice), and pavlova, n., the American ice-cream (c. 1926) of which I can find no trace at all, evidently require separate definitions. None of which helps us to solve the problem of pavlova, adj., the mysterious color quite aggressively marketed by at least a handful of Melbourne department stores between 1926 and 1928.

1 comment:

  1. Some have used the appearance of a recipe for "pavlova" in the 6th edition of "Davis Dainty Dishes" in New Zealand as evidence of its origin there -- the O.E.D. believes this is the first occurrence in the Antipodes -- but, as you suggest, this gelatine-based desert was not meringue-based, and so not the pav as it has been known since at latest July 1937. Where are these N.Z. recipes for today's pavlova before 1937? See my piece at
    Robert Marks