My summer reading in 2020 has included "A History of Food in 100 Recipes" by William Sitwell. After learning that the brunch staple Eggs a la Benedick may have been created in 1894 either by Charles Ranhofer, the head chef of the original New York restaurant Delmonico, or by maitre d'hotel Oscar of the Waldorf Astoria for wealthy NY socialite Lemuel Benedict, that led me to explore what other foods are named for people.
|Frontispiece of Charles Ranhofer's Belle Epoque cookbook "Epicurean"|
The other famous dishes Ranhofer named for people that are still in vogue today include Lobster Newberg (Captain Ben Wenberg), Delmonico steak (Delmonico brothers), Chicken à la King (William King), and his version of baked Alaska that he called "Alaska, Florida”. Other dishes unknown today that are credited to Ranhofer include Veal pie and Beet fritters à la Dickens (Charles Dickens visit in 1867), Salad à la Dumas (Alexandre Dumas, père), Sweetbreads à l'Eugénie (Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III), an elaborate moulded Humboldt pudding (Alexander von Humboldt), Timbales à la Irving (author Washington Irving), Apricots with rice à la Jefferson (President Thomas Jefferson), Trout, Joan of Arc (French martyr Joan of Arc), Consommé Marie Stuart (Queen Mary Stuart), Pâté chaud ris de veau à la McAllister (Samuel Ward McAllister), Bisque of shrimps à Melville (author Herman Melville), Marshal Ney (Napoleon's Marshal commander at Waterloo Michel Ney), lamb dish Selle d'agneau à la Paganini (Italian opera composer Niccolò Paganini), Lamprey à la Rabelais (French monk, physician, writer and satirist François Rabelais), Tournedos Rachel (Swiss-born French tragedienne Elisa-Rachel Félix), Beef hash Sam Ward (Washington lobbyist Samuel Cutler Ward), Sarah Potatoes (French actress Sarah Bernhardt), Schiller pudding (German poet Friedrich von Schiller), Lobster cutlets à la Shelley (English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley), and Purée of wild ducks van Buren (8th president Martin van Buren).
Another named food discovery was the Washington "Pie" that is reminiscent of a Boston Cream Pie in actually being a cake. As described by a Washington Post article on the dish's origins, the original version sounds closer to a Victoria Sponge cake with jam in the center but a lot of bakers seem to think that a Washington Pie needs to be dressed up by topping with cherry pie filling (due to chopping down a cherry tree), coconut, or powdered sugar. Below is a recipe from 1936 and some other versions.