The Pavlova Story : A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History

pavlov While Australians and New Zealanders have long debated which country invented the pavlova (a large meringue dessert cake said to emulate the lightness of the famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova), the real story of the ballerina’s visit to the Antipodes and the emergence of three different pavlovas was neglected.

The contributions of a gelatine manufacturer, a Dunedin spinster, and numerous other New Zealand housewives are all revealed in this fascinating contribution to food history. The book shows the evolution of the three pavlova types, that their recipes have never been set in stone, and that creative and innovative cooks have played the most important roles in transforming a fashionable afternoon tea cake into an iconic dessert.

HELEN LEACH is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago. Her research interests include the evolution of human diet and prehistoric horticulture. She is the editor of From Kai to Kiwi Kitchen: New Zealand Culinary Traditions and Cookbooks (Otago University Press, 2010) and co-author with Mary Browne and Raelene Inglis of The Twelve Cakes of Christmas: An evolutionary history, with recipes (Otago University Press, 2011). She has also written two books on garden history, co-authored nine others, and published over 60 articles in journals worldwide. Her most recent book is Kitchens: The New Zealand kitchen in the 20th century (Otago University Press, 2015).

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