Local Heart, Global Soul

July 25, 2012

Flip-Flopping Around the Issue of Pavlova…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There are always rivalries between neighbouring countries, and New Zealand and Australia are no exception.

For the majority of the population of course it’s an easy-going good natured thing… Kiwi’s have their fair share of jokes where the Auzzies are the butt of their humour and of course visa versa and it’s interesting that if a New Zealand sports team are paying Australia I’ll be cheering loudly for the Kiwi’s but I’m happy to switch allegiances and cheer for the Auzzies if for instance they are playing the Brits.

(Nations “down-under”should stick together after all LOL).

One area where Kiwis and their Australian friends are destined to never  agree however is whenever the topic of  the Pavlova dessert comes up. I did some research and Wikipedia (amongst other sites) tells me:

Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources. Her book, “The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History”, states that the first Australian pavlova recipe was created in 1935 while an earlier version was penned in 1929 in the rural magazine.

The Aussies claim that  Bert Sachse created the dish at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth, Australia in 1935. In defence of his claim as inventor of the dish, a relative of Sachse’s wrote to Leach suggesting that Sachse may have accidentally dated the recipe incorrectly. 

Leach replied they would not find evidence for that “because it’s just not showing up in the cookbooks until really the 1940s in Australia.” (However, a 1937 issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly contains a “pavlova sweet cake” recipe.)

Of such arguments, Matthew Evans, a restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald, said that it was unlikely that 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.”   The first known recorded recipe named “pavlova” was published in the fifth Australian edition of Davis Dainty Dishes in 1926. However this “pavlova” recipe was not meringue based, but was instead a multi-coloured gelatine dish.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Meanwhile on the New Zealand side of the ditch… “Research shows the recipe originated in New Zealand. Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova, wrote that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour.”

For me as a Kiwi, it’s simple: the Kiwi’s made it first… yes the Aussies might have had something they “called” Pavlova but since it was a cake or a gelatine dish then sorry it isn’t  the light and airy baked meringue treat covered in cream and fresh fruit that we know Pavlova as today…

…and as for the the argument  that the Auzzies “may have accidentally dated the recipe incorrectly”  ?  Sorry,  that’s totally implausible, and given that no Australian cookbooks carried the recipe until close to a decade  later, the well known Kiwi phrase “yeah right!” springs to mind.

I know there will be some Auzzies reading this, and I know you may well disagree…(you are most welcome to your own opinion, so we may agree to disagree) but for me this one is as clear cut as can be, since Anna Pavolova was actually visiting Wellington  in 1926 on her world tour.

The hotel chef invented  the dessert because  he was inspired by her tutu, draped in green silk cabbage roses.  The basic shape of the tutu was provided by a meringue case, while the froth of the skirt’s net was suggested by whipped cream.  To achieve the effect of the green roses the enterprising chef used slices of kiwifruit, then known as Chinese gooseberries.

Apparently it is also  mentioned in Anna Pavlova’s biography that she had the dessert made for her in Wellington… (but to be honest I haven’t read Pavlova’s biography so can’t verify that one myself). So there you have it … Pavlova… a very New Zealand  icon!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And now to the last New Zealand icon on the Kiwiana wall: the Jandal !

If you are not a Kiwi then your reaction to the word “jandal” is probably ” A What?”, accompanied by a puzzled expression.

Ok… let’s explain, you may know the Jandal well, but  in your neck of the woods it may well be called a “flip-flop“or a “thong” or “zōri“.

These articles of footwear  have been around since the times of the ancient Egyptians and some in various shapes and made from a variety of materials depending on the version of them that many cultures have.

One thing they have in common though is the strap that comes between the wearers big toe  and the other toes to hold them on, and the “flack, flack, flack” noise that they make when you walk in them.

Jandals are Kiwi summer-ware… what better shoes do you need in order to walk over hot beach stones or sand in the height of summer?  Great for getting changed in public swimming pool changing rooms, and easy to slip on when you need to walk down the drive to collect the morning newspaper or the post from the mailbox.

But…. many an Australian on holiday in New Zealand has come unstuck when trying to go shopping for jandals. In Oz they call these “thongs” so  invariably asking directions for these in a New Zealand shop has found them being led into the lingerie department and presented with a selection of  skimpy underwear.

My Dutch father has never lost the Dutch term (“Slippers”)  for these shoes either, and I can remember being embarrassed more than once as a teenager  as he called out to me  in front of my friends “remember to put your slippers on when you go outside“.  Of course now I know he was being cautious because I’m allergic to bees and I used to love walking barefoot on the grass, but my friends used to think it was hilarious and made plenty of jokes about it  that I didn’t quite appreciate being the butt of at the time.


  1. I am from India, once while in college I met a gentleman from NZ who had come as part of a tourist group. The group had some Australians as well, including one who was this man’s room mate. This man spoke for an hour about how Australians behaved, their arrogance and so on. This gentleman may have got the wrong roommate, but it was fun listening to the conversation 🙂

    Comment by Manoj Nair — July 25, 2012 @ 1:53 am | Reply

    • Oooh not too polite of that Kiwi, he’s lucky the Aussie didn’t get angry about the *Kiwi’s* arrogance and lack of restraint. Mind you I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall on THAT conversation too ! It WOULD have been fun listening to the verbal spat!

      Comment by kiwidutch — July 26, 2012 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

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