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peach melba and melba toast

History of the Peach Melba and Melba Toast

There are a number of foods and desserts that are named after famous individuals. Just as the meringue dessert Pavlova has been named for Anna Pavlova the famous ballerina, another distinctive individual has 4 foods named in her honour.

Dame Nellie Melba of the Victorian Era was undoubtedly one of the most renowned opera singers of her time. She was born Helen Porter Mitchell in Victoria, Australia (into a musical family). She lived in Melbourne for most of her teen years, and took on her stage name Nellie Melba as a tribute to this beautiful city. A shrewd businesswoman, this soprano led an extraordinary life, had an astounding voice and sang at some of the most highly acclaimed opera houses including Covent Garden in London, the Metropolitan and La Scala.

How the Melba Toast Came Into Creation

She had a portly figure and loved to eat; and right through her career Nellie fought a losing battle with her weight. In fact, it was this that resulted in the story about the origins of the Melba toast. While she was a guest at the famous Savoy Hotel in London (and on one of her now famous weight-loss diets), she asked for dry toast. However, the kitchens slipped-up and sent crunchy and thin, over-toasted bread.

Surprisingly and uncharacteristically, she ate the substandard toast, instead of admonishing the waiter for serving it to her, story has it that the establishment’s maître d’ then christened the toast in her honour. The other story doing the rounds (which seems a little more plausible), is that the Savoy’s legendary cook Auguste Escoffier deliberately created the toast for Melba because she had been suffering from a minor illness at the time, and her digestive system wasn’t strong enough to tolerate standard foods.

The Peach Melba Makes an Appearance

Aside from this, the celebrated chef also created the classic Peach Melba, a delectable dessert made with ice cream, poached peaches and raspberry sauce, in the singer’s honour. Legend has it that Melba was concerned about the fact that too much of ice cream would negatively affect her vocal cords; this prompted the chef to create a dessert that was delicious; but the ice cream was only one of the ingredients of the dessert, rather than the whole of the dish.

The chef also created two other desserts that weren’t as famous as the ones we just mentioned. These were the Melba Sauce (a delicious redcurrant and raspberries puree) and The Melba Garniture (these were tomatoes that had been stuffed with truffles, a rich white sauce, mushrooms and chicken. While Melba Toast and Peach Melba were created in London, these desserts soon made their way to other lands. Since Nellie Melba was an Australian, it was no surprise that these desserts became a favourite here.

Today, both Melba Toast and Peach Melba are found in many restaurants across Australia. Chefs also get creative with these preparations and there are a number of variations of the original dishes. Since the toast is quite compact in size, it becomes a great base for various toppings.

It’s used in preparing different appetizers that have toppings such as shrimp, smoked salmon, mushrooms, eggs and hummus. This crispy and crunchy toast has high mineral content and is very low in cholesterol, calories and fats. If you are on a low sodium diet, it is a good option for you.

At Ganache Patisserie you will find Viennoiserie Pastries and delicious croissants and other Australian desserts for everyday consumption as well as for special occasions. Come; explore our scrumptious world of goodies.

Thanks for reading,
Ganache Patisserie
(02) 9967 2882