Food for Thought: A Short History of Meringues 5 years ago

Food for Thought: A Short History of Meringues

We need food and drink to survive, to nourish us and to keep us in tip-top shape. But did you ever wonder about the history behind certain foods?

This week we’re bringing you the history behind the meringue.

It’s often said that the meringue was created in the Swiss village of Meiringen and then was worked on and improved by a pastry chef called Gasparini – There are however many food historians, who do not agree that these are its true origins.

According to the Larousse Gastronomique, The New American Edition of the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia:

“Others maintain that the word comes from the Polish word marzynka and that the preparation was invented by a chef in the service of King Stanislas I Leszcyński, who later became Duke of Lorraine.

“The king passed on the recipe to his daughter, Marie, who introduced it to the French. Queen Marie Antoinette had a great liking for meringues and court lore has it that she made them with her own hands at the Trianon, where she is also said to have made vacherins, which are prepared from a similar mixture.”

The Oxford Dictionary maintains that the origin is French, but unknown, while Websters agree saying that it is indeed French but first used in 1706.

The word meringue appeared in print in Francois Massialot's (Cuisinier Royal at the court of Louis XIV) cookbook in 1692, though there are two earlier mentions in the 1600s of things called “white biskit bread” by Lady Elinor Fettiplace, that also largely resembles a meringue.

Until the early 19th century, meringues were shaped using a spoon and historians agree that the renowned French pastry chef, Antoine Carême, was the first person used a piping bag to shape them.

Previously:

Image: Mike Lehmann/Wikimedia Commons