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The last word: New Zealand created pavlova

Published: 11:03AM Wednesday December 01, 2010 Source: Newstalk ZB/ONE News

  •  (Source: ONE News)
    Source: ONE News

New Zealand has won the battle of the pavlova with Australia, according to one of the world's most reputable dictionaries.

The nationality of the creator of pavlova has been a source of argument between the two countries for many years, with the meringue-based dessert part of the national cuisine of both countries.

The Oxford English Dictionary has come out in favour of New Zealand's case, stating the first recorded recipe for pavlova was in the 1927 book Davis Dainty Dishes, a publication by Davis Gelatine (NZ).

What should be the last word in the trans-Tasman debate comes in the Oxford English Dictionary's online version which was relaunched yesterday a decade after it first appeared.

Pavlova was named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova and is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer during or after one of her tours to New Zealand and Australia in the 1920s.

Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova, wrote that a hotel chef in Wellington created the dish when Pavlova visited the capital in 1926 on her world tour.

Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago, has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources.

Her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand's Culinary History, states that the first Australian pavlova recipe was created in 1935 while an earlier version was penned in 1929 in the rural magazine NZ Dairy Exporter Annual.

The Australian website Australian Flavour gives an even earlier date of 1926 for its creation, suggesting that Home Cookery for New Zealand, by E Futter, contained a recipe for "Meringue with Fruit Filling". This recipe was similar to today's version of the dessert.

However, it has also been claimed that Bert Sachse created the dish at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, Australia in 1935. In defense of his claim as inventor of the dish, a relative of Sachse's wrote to Leach suggesting that Sachse may have accidentally dated the recipe incorrectly.

Leach replied they would not find evidence for that "because it's just not showing up in the cookbooks until really the 1940s in Australia".

Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald said it was unlikely that a definitive answer about the pavlova's origins would ever be found.

"People have been doing meringue with cream for a long time, I don't think Australia or New Zealand were the first to think of doing that."

New Zealand words in dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary online lists 1386 words which have a linguistic link to New Zealand.

There are nearly 300 words in the dictionary which originate from the Maori language, with Pakeha now recognised by it as an official word.

New Zealanders can now also officially deem something broken and half-cooked in local slang because of it being "pukeroo" and half-pie".

Trampers and adventurers can also thank New Zealand for "scroggin".