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Is it? The Pav or The Pavlova

The ongoing argument as to who really was the creator.

Was it a New Zealand creation? - Was it an Australian Creation? - Did it actually have its origin in Switzerland? Just who did create this Australian favourite and why?

Could it be a derivative of the Swiss vacherin? That is the meringue based creation, not the renown Swiss cheese also known as vacherin.

There is some research that seems to indicate that in the publication" Home Cookery for New Zealand" in the early 1920', a meringue type sweet appeared on the culinary scene and so New Zealand and recently the present Prime Minister The Hon. John Keys has re-entered the debate claiming the creation of the "PAV" for New Zealand.

A more intense research seems to indicate the late Herbert Sachse [Bert Sasch] was really the creator as we now know the classic PAVLOVA in Australia having sought to improve on previous recipes. He may well turn over in his grave with all the variations, especially with the assorted toppings, and in particular with the use of Chinese Gooseberries [Kiwi Fruit] which seems to be intended to fortify the New Zealand ownership for it has been stated that the green Chinese Gooseberry was to indicate some green embroidery in the Tu Tu.

At presentations of Swan Lake here in Melbourne and at The Beijing Opera House I cannot recall ever seeing any green embroidery in the ballerina’s costume.

I am inclined to support Herbert Sachse approach for the following reasons:
It is suggested he was of Swiss origin and may have had knowledge of the vacherin. He was born in Boulder the twin city of Kalgoorlie, W.A. Moving to Kununoppin where he married his wife Mary an excellent cook and they raised 5 children on a wheat property.

In 1926 he found that producing wheat was not profitable so he moved to Mullewa about 400 kilometres northeast of Perth. His wife Mary set about to teach him to cook and together they opened a pie shop and restaurant. With confidence he later on became a shearer’s cook, graduating to hotels where he was able to learn from the chefs in those establishments. Eventually he arrived at the Fremantle Hotel Esplanade.

At the behest of Elsie Ploughman, the proprietress prevailed upon him to experiment on a special sweet. He eventually came up with the Pavlova as it is known today.

It is said that the name was given to the sweet by the hotel manager Harry Nairn in honour of Anna Pavlova the famous ballerina, who had been a guest at the hotel.

Chef Sachse had been intrigued by the ballerina and especially her role in the Swan Lake which the famous choreographer Michel Fokine had created for her.

It is recorded that Pavlova kept black and white swans in a special lake at her home in Hampstead, London. She was so taken back by the black swans, native to Western Australia.

If one can indulge in poetic license and looking at the Sachse classic finished product the following enhances the reasons why the true Pavlova is dressed in such a manner.

The whipped cream is really creme Chantilly hence the ballerinas costume of tulle/of Chantilly lace.

The round slices of banana dipped in lemon juice to retard any discoloration resemble the tu tu worn by ballerinas and the black pips of the passionfruit can certainly be seen to take the place of the Western Australian Black swans swimming in a lake of creme Chantilly.

One deviation I can accept from the above classic presentation would be to add a baked chou paste formed swan. Filled with creme Chantilly and placed on each portion, finally surmounted with spun sugar to represent the mist on the lake.

It is interesting to note that two of the most famous Australian sweets have a connection to the swan. The native Western Australian Black swan to the Pavlova and then with Chef Escoffer's presentation of a carved ice swan when serving the Peach Melba in honour of Dame Nellie Melba's role in Lohengrin.

Chef John Mangan Miller OAM. Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole.
On behalf of L’ Académie Culinaire de France Australie. Inc.

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