A Cook's Diary

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People | casaveneracion.com

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a dish named after us? Nowadays, with food blogging so prevalent, a food blogger can create a unique dish and simply name it after himself or herself. If it becomes popular, the cook is immortalized.

In history, there are dishes that were named after real people. Some bear the name of the cook; others were named for some famous person who enjoyed the dish tremendously. Here are seven of them.


A dish invented out of sheer panic after the maitre d’ of Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico failed to locate the cook. In 1943, Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya whipped up the dish to feed the wives if U.S. Army officers stationed in Fort Duncan Air Base in Texas just across the Mexican border. Nachos crossed the Mexican border and has been embraced by the world.

Tarte Tatin

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People: Tarte Tatin

The upside-down apple tart known as Tarte Tatin was named after sisters Stephanie and Caroline Tatin, owners of l’Hotel Tatin. Story has it that Stephanie was baking an apple pie and she put the pan in the oven without a crust. She belatedly added a crust on top of the apples and continued baking them. After taking her concoction out of the oven, she inverted it and Tarte Tatin was born.

Peach Melba

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you may remember an episode where soprano Kiri Te Kanawa was a guest. The singer portrayed another singer, Nellie Melba, for whom the dessert known as Peach Melba was named. Nellie was performing at the Covent Garden in London in the late 1800’s when she became friends with French chef Auguste Escoffier who was already famous for his “haute cuisine” style of cooking. Nellie gave Escoffier tickets to the Wagner opera Lohengrin where a swan-shaped boat was featured. The next evening, Escoffier presented Nellie with a peached-topped vanilla ice cream dessert served on ice carved as a swan. The dessert would undergo a revision later with the addition of raspberry sauce.

The Sandwich

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People: The Sandwich

The practice of wrapping meat with bread pre-dates the lifetime of John Montagu by several centuries. Still, the story persists that the “modern” sandwich was invented when Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, ordered beef to be served between slices of bread so he could eat his meal without leaving the card table.

Pizza Margherita

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People: Pizza Margherita

There are variations to the story but it is not disputed that the meatless pizza Margherita was, in fact, created for and named after Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna di Savoia or Margaret of Savoy, Queen consort of Italy’s Umberto I (ruled from 1878 to 1900). The red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella cheese) and green (basil leaves) colors represent the colors of the Italian flag.


7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People: Mirepoix

Mirepoix is not a dish but the “holy trinity” of French cooking. Mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah) is equal amounts of chopped onion, carrot and celery cooked gently in oil or butter until soft. It serves as the base for many dishes. The combination and the cooking technique may be much older but there was no common appellation for either until, together, they were named after Charles-Pierre-Gaston François de Lévis, duc de Lévis-Mirepoix, the employer of the cook credited to have first mastered the technique.

German chocolate cake

7 Iconic Foods Named After Real People: German Chocolate Cake

Stock photo from Morguefile.com

German chocolate cake was named after Sam German, an English immigrant to the United States, who developed baking chocolate in 1852 for Baker’s Chocolate Company. Read the post about German chocolate cake.

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