SE­LECT

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS -

FOR­GOT­TEN IN PLAIN SIGHT Have you ever won­dered what it would be like to in­vent a dish and have it named af­ter you, only for your in­volve­ment in the whole af­fair to be for­got­ten in the cruel pas­sage of time?

How would John Mon­tagu the 4th Earl of Sand­wich feel if he found out that a) his pen­chant for ask­ing ser­vants for a slice of meat be­tween two slices of bread to sus­tain him through­out ar­du­ous games of cards in the 1700s has been adopted by school­child­ren and of­fice work­ers the world over and b) his part in the evo­lu­tion of this most trea­sured of lunchtime meals has been largely for­got­ten.

Be­hind the names of some of our most ubiq­ui­tous in­gre­di­ents and dishes lie the sto­ries of the peo­ple who dis­cov­ered or in­vented them. Most food fans know the story of the sis­ters be­hind the Tart Tatin. Like many of life’s great­est in­ven­tions, the Tart Tatin is said to have been in­vented by mis­take some­time in the 1880s. Stéphanie and Caro­line Tatin were the pro­pri­etors and cooks at Ho­tel Tartin in Lamotte-Beau­vron, France. It’s thought that the Tart Tatin came about when Stéphanie tried to save a burnt ap­ple pie by turn­ing it up­side-down, and ended up cre­ated some­thing even more de­li­cious, thanks to the won­ders of but­ter, sugar and carameli­sa­tion.

Also on the sub­ject of ap­ples is Granny Smith, named af­ter their cul­ti­va­tor Maria Ann Smith. Smith, orig­i­nally from Sus­sex, in­vented this tart ap­ple in her adopted home of Aus­tralia in 1868 when she ac­ci­den­tally mixed some crab-ap­ple peels and seeds with other ap­ple va­ri­eties in her compost heap, and then tended to a seedling that ap­peared some months later. It wasn’t un­til af­ter her death in 1870 that her Granny Smith Seedlings were pop­u­larised, with the help of or­chardist Ed­ward Gal­lard, who bought the Smith’s farm fol­low­ing the death of Maria’s hus­band Thomas in 1876.

The creamy Cal­i­for­nian Hass Av­o­cado also takes its name from its cul­ti­va­tor, am­a­teur botanist Ru­dolph Hass. A mi­grant to Cal­i­for­nia from Wis­con­isn, Hass was work­ing as a door-to-door sales­man when an il­lus­tra­tion of an av­o­cado tree with dol­lar bills hang­ing from it in­spired him to put all of his sav­ings into buy­ing a small av­o­cado grove. With the help of his hired hand, a pro­fes­sional grafter re­mem­bered sim­ply as Mr Caulkins, Hass cross-pol­li­nated trees to cre­ate a sturdy and pro­lific fruit-bear­ing tree that he patented as the Hass av­o­cado tree in 1935.

Un­like Granny Smith, Hass was able to see the fruits of his ef­forts in his life­time, as the Hass av­o­cado be­came a suc­cess. How­ever, sim­i­lar to Granny Smith, he didn’t make much of a profit, as his pa­tent wasn’t much re­spected and many other grow­ers in­stalled the Hass av­o­cado in their own groves.

To­day, you’ll find Hass av­o­ca­dos smashed into de­li­cious gua­camole on top of any de­cent plate of Na­chos. Named af­ter their in­ven­tor Ig­na­cio “Na­cho” Anaya, this Mex­i­can restau­ra­teur is said to have put his sig­na­ture dish, Na­cho’s Es­pe­ciales, on the menu at his restau­rant El Moderno in the Mex­i­can town of Coahuila in the early 1940s.

The next time you’re wash­ing down a gi­ant plate of Na­chos with a Mar­garita, you might stop to think of th­ese two in­ven­tors.

Rais­ing a toast to the in­ven­tor of the Mar­garita is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated, how­ever, with a num­ber of sto­ries float­ing around the ori­gins of this tequila-based cock­tail. Some say a Mex­i­can bar­tender in­vented it for Mar­garita Henkel, the daugh­ter of the Ger­man am­bas­sador in Ense­nada. An­other story is that Dal­las so­cialite Mar­garita Sames shook up the drink at her Aca­pulco hol­i­day home in 1948. Other Mar­gar­i­tas that this drink may be named af­ter in­clude the Mex­i­can show­girl Rita de la Rosa and the singer Peggy (of­ten a nick­name for Mar­garet) Lee.

An­other chef who left an im­print on his own dish is Cae­sar Car­dini, widely thought to have been the in­ven­tor of the Cae­sar salad. Car­dini was an Ital­ian im­mi­grant to the US, who opened a restau­rant in Ti­juana, Mex­ico, to avoid Pro­hi­bi­tion laws. With the Cae­sar salad, part of the ap­peal was that Car­dini him­self would toss the salad at your ta­ble, and the sim­ple salad be­came a Hol­ly­wood sta­ple. Ju­lia Child told of a child­hood mem­ory of eat­ing a Cae­sar salad at Car­dini’s restau­rant in the 1920s. In her cook­book From Ju­lia Child’s Kitchen, she wrote: “My par­ents, of course, or­dered the salad. Cae­sar him­self rolled the big cart up to the ta­ble, tossed the ro­maine in a great wooden bowl.”

En­e­mies of the an­chovy will

Holy mo­ley: Na­chos and gua­camole

be pleased to hear that the orig­i­nal salad did not in­clude th­ese salty lit­tle fishies, but rather Car­dini’s ap­pli­ca­tion of Worces­ter­shire sauce was where the salti­ness came from.

There is a ques­tion mark over this whole story how­ever, as Car­dini’s part­ner Paul Mag­giora and his own brother, Alex Car­dini, claim to have been the first to pro­duce the salad in 1927, which they called the Avi­a­tor salad. Even ear­lier than that, Livio San­tini, who worked at Car­dini’s, claimed that the Cae­sar salad was his mother’s recipe and that Cae­sar stole the recipe from him in 1925.

Per­haps The 4th Earl of Sand­wich might take some so­lace in the fact that his in­ven­tion ap­pears to have been ac­cu­rately at­trib­uted to him, even if he isn’t re­mem­bered with ev­ery lunchtime bite.

Aoife McEl­wain

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