Saturday, February 9, 2008

Traditional Aussie Dish

So, I was going to try to write a post on something intellectual and interesting, but after trying to sign up on for the past hour, my brain hurts.

Instead, I've decided to catch you all up on a little bit of Aussie culture, that luckily I can vaguely relate back to Russian culture.

Behold: The PAVLOVA! (Or "Pav", if you want to be really Aussie, and therefore lazily shorten the word as we do everything else.) A most delicious dessert, the origins of which Aussie's and Kiwi's still fight over. (Kiwi being the name for a person from New Zealand) I don't really care which country it's from, both of us hold it as a traditional dish.

The story goes that it was named after the Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova (told you it was relevant), after her visit to the country (either New Zealand, or Aus, depending on what story you'd rather believe) in the 1920's. (Anna Pavlova, by the way, is one of the most famous ballerinas in history -along with Nijinsky -as she was the ballerina to travel the world and perform ballet for people who had never before seen it performed. She has been hailed as the reason ballet every became popular in America.)

Pavlova is basically just a giant meringue -you beat a bunch of egg whites, fold in a whole lot of sugar, maybe add some vanilla and a little vinegar, and sit it in the oven to bake. It makes this gorgeously crispy meringue-like shell on the outside, but leaves it moist and soft and almost spongy on the inside. Sooooo delicious.

So once you have this big sugary cake, you cover it in whipped cream (but NOT the crappy, squirt it out rubbishy stuff that you guys buy in a can), you buy REAL cream and whip it yourself, and then you smother the whole thing in fresh fruit.

You can use any fruit you like, but I personally believe that no pavlova is complete without passionfruit, kiwifruit, and strawberries. Lots of them. The passionfruit is key. Banana is also nice. But whatever you like, stick it on, eat it, and melt into happy oblivion.

I eat pav every Christmas, and Mum always makes it if we have international visitors. I don't know whether Anna Pavlova herself enjoyed the dish, but it was created in honor of her, so I hope so. Really, it does reflect her passion, ballet -it's light, delicate, difficult and takes a lot of skill and practice (getting pavlova just right, stopping it from collapsing and not coming out as sticky goo is EXTREMELY difficult and takes a lot of skill...) and in some cases, is rather fruity.

I plan to make it next time the RSC does something food-based. :-)

1 comment:

Dr. Michael A. Denner said...

when i come to visit, will mum make me pav, too?

great, excellent entry. i'm always fascinated by how different ballerinas from, say, pre-1925 look. we think of them as twiggy things, but in the 19th century they were earthy, solid, curvy creatures...