Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Tuesday, 19 July 2005 12:43 UK

Antipodean palaver over pavlova

The pavlova is named after the famous Russian ballet dancer
You wouldn't think a dessert could possibly whip up this much fuss.

But the origin of the seemingly innocuous pavlova is the latest issue to divide neighbouring rivals Australia and New Zealand.

The pavlova is essentially a mixture of egg whites and sugar, topped with cream and fresh fruit, named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.

But both Australia and New Zealand claim to have invented it.

According to the Australians, a chef called Bert Sachse first came up with the dish at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, in 1935.

But Professor Helen Leach from the University of Otago - who is currently studying the origins of the pavlova - has found a recipe in New Zealand dating from 1929.

According to the Brisbane Courier Mail, though, the descendants of the Esplanade Hotel's owner have far from given up.

Prof Leach said one family member wrote to her suggesting Mr Sachse may have got his dates wrong.

On the case

She told him to look through old cookery books, but added: "I somehow don't think they're going to find the evidence, simply because it's just not showing up in the cookbooks until really the 1940s in Australia."

Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, told the Associated Press that it was unlikely a definitive answer about the pavlova's origins would ever be found.

"People have been doing meringue with cream for a long time, I don't think Australia or New Zealand were the first to think of doing that," he said.

"I think it's a great dish and we should be happy somebody invented it," he added.

Who do you think invented the pavlova?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

And of course a 'kiwi fruit' actually comes from Asia and used to be called a Chinese gooseberry - that's marketing for you! However, I still reckon that the best place to get a pavlova is near the Octagon in Dunedin, Otago, in New Zealand.
Simon, Stockholm, Sweden

Pavlova certainly comes from Perth and was inspired by the skirts of the ballerina Anna Pavlova. And it should be served with strawberries.
Lauren O'Hern, HCMC, Vietnam

I have always been struck by the great similarity of pavlova to an Austrian dessert called Wind Torte or sometimes 'Spanish Wind Torte.' The only substantive difference is that the meringue for a pavlova is plopped on the sheet and shaped with a spoon, while Wind Torte's layers are nicely piped out with a decorating bag. My vote goes to the Austrians.
Robin, New Hampshire, USA

Sachse cannot have invented the pavlova for Anna Pavlova at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth in 1935, because Pavlova wasn't in Australia in 1935. She toured Australia twice: once in 1926 and once in 1929.
Brett Evill, Kempsey, Australia

I googled 'pavlova' and the first like was a Australian recipe site and the second link was a New Zeeland recipe site. So Iżll go with the Aussies.
Vijay Devadason, Ottawa, Canada

Perhaps it was the French?
S, Philadelphia PA

Who cares! We've got the Iraq war, Chinese building up their missles, terrorist attacks, a horrible situation in Darfur, poverty the world over etc etc...... And the Aussies and Kiwis are concerned who invented a dessert?
Yoko, Japan expat living in USA

Given the very high proportion of British in both countries at that time, I think we can be sure that whatever country the Pavlova was first cooked, it would have no doubt been a British creation.
Nicholas Bargemann, Auckland, New Zealand.

This is not the only thing that the Kiwi's have tried to pass of as their own. On a recent trip to NZ, I had encountered things such as welcome to Down Under, pictures of Kangaroos, and images of Australian living. It seems to me that the Liwis are trying to ride the Coat tails of there more popular and well deserving neighbor.
Michael Sharan, Los Angeles, USA

Those darn Aussies always try to steal the ball off the little kids! Come on guys! Give NZ some recognition where it is due. NZer living in London.
Juliette Coopey, London

I never had it but it looks good and easy to make. I wonder why the name sounds Russian.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA

Naturally, it is a New Zealand creation. Australia constantly tries to steal our best. Think Russell Crowe (they can have him actually), Phar Lap, Split Enz, Crowded House, Michael Campbell, the list goes on. Australia lacks the originality to make anything that tasty.
Greg Stephens, Wellington, New Zealand

My wife has been making a variation of the pav for many years called the Monaro Moondrop.It has chocolate and coffee rather than fruit. No Kiwi can claim that version.
Geoff, Australia.

New Zealand is the Home of question.
Corey Higgs, Washington DC, USA

The real issue isn't who invented it but whether it should be served with kiwifruit or passionfruit.
Stephen Binns, Ellington CT USA

What's new? I'm 67 and as long as I can remember, New Zealanders and Aussies have been arguing about who invented Pavlova dessert. I bet it started when she was still alive.
Helen Watson, Twizel, New Zealand

Earlier this year I visited my brother in New Zealand, and on one of our last nights there, we had a lovely meal in Lake Taupo where, for desert, I had a lovely dish called Kiwi Fruit Pavlova...of course I was told it was a New Zealand speciality, and it wasn't until I read this article that I heard of this feud. Whoever may have invented it will be hard to prove, so let's just enjoy the lovely desert and not worry about the who's and the where's.
Andy M., Amsterdam, Netherlands

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