Thursday, June 04, 2009

Would you like a dessert?

It seems that postal administrations have decided to encourage my greediness. After the chocolate stamps from French post, I have received recently a set of stamps from Australia, entitled “Not just desserts”, and picturing deserts that are famous in Australia.

The first one pictures a desserts that is famous not only in Australia but in a lot of other countries I think. This is the Peach Melba.

This very classic dessert is made of vanilla ice cream combined with two summer fruits: peaches and raspberry sauce. It has been invented in 1892 by the French chef August Escoffier to honor Dame Nelie Melba (1861-1931) an Australian soprano. It is said that in 1892, Nellie Melba was performing in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at Covent Garden. A dinner was given by the Duke of Orléans to celebrate her triumph. For this occasion Escoffier created this new dessert that he displayed on an ice sculpture of a swan, which is featured in the opera. At this time the dessert only contained the peaches and the vanilla ice cream. Escoffier added the raspberry purée later. The stamp pictures a close up of the dessert and a portrait of Dame Nellie Melba.

Another dessert that I have already tasted is pictured on a second stamp: the pavlova.

This is a meringue dessert with a crispy crust and a soft inner. It is named after a Russian ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova. It is believed that the dessert has been created by a New Zealand chef during a tour of the dancer in Australia and New Zealand. The dessert is traditionally decorated with whipped cream and fresh fruit (raspberries for instance).

The two other desserts are probably less widely known. One is a sponge cake in the shape of a cube, coated in a layer of chocolate icing and desiccated coconut and named Lamington. It is usually served as two halves filled with a layer of cream or jam.

This dessert is named after Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington who was the governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901. The exact origin of this naming is not very well known and various stories exist.
The last stamp pictures ANZAC biscuits

These are sweet biscuits made using rolled oats, flour, coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup among other ingredients. They appear to be a variation of a Scottish type of biscuits. They are so called because it is said they were made by Australian and New Zealand women for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers during World War I. The ingredients used to make the biscuits do not spoil easily and therefore they can be kept during long military actions.

I must admit that I did not know the last two ones. While writing this post I was wondering what we could select as typical French dessert to be put on a set of stamps? Tarte Tatin (Sisters Tatin’s tart)? Paris-Brest? There are so many wonderful desserts in France (how do you think I got my love handles ;-) ?)…
What about your country, do you have any typical dessert? I would be happy to hear from you about that.

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