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The painter, the restaurant owners and the opera singer

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You might well have noticed that there are recipes involving names that have been so overused (often for any old thing) that they have almost become common nouns.

Here are three examples that are commonly found on restaurant menus.


This should be: a dish of raw beef, sliced very thin, seasoned and covered with a thin film of olive oil, often served arranged on a plate.

carpaccio st georges by carpaccio

This comes from: the name of Vittore Carpaccio, a Venetian Renaissance painter, famous for the reds in his paintings, red like beef. Some even claim that his painting "The Triumph of Saint George" was the inspiration.

But it is often: anything sliced thinly, such as: scallop carpaccio, pineapple carpaccio, etc.


This should be: a delicious caramelized apple tart cooked upside down (with the pastry on the top) and turned out before serving.

tatin tart sisters tatin

This comes from: the name of the Tatin sisters, who ran a restaurant in Lamotte-Beuvron, central France, and who invented the dessert in the early 20th century.

But it is often: anything with pastry on the top (or underneath) which looks vaguely like an upside-down tart, such as: tomato tatin, diced-chicken tatin, etc.


This should be: a peach Melba – a dish of vanilla ice cream, raspberry coulis, poached peach, praline marzipan and Chantilly cream.

peach melba nellie melba

This comes from : the name of a famous Australian opera singer of the late 19th century, Nellie Melba, for whom the great chef Alain Escoffier invented this dessert.

But it is often: anything served with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, such as: strawberry melba, pear melba, etc.


Well, I've just mentioned the examples most commonly encountered in France and in French. But you will notice that they all involve a proper noun, someone's name.

Of course, you can have fun combining anything you like. Let's see… “Strawberry Melba with a Carpaccio of pear Tatin”: put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a dish, add a layer of thinly-sliced and caramelized pears, a disc of crisp sweetcrust pastry, a few strawberries and top with whipped cream.

But… ooh, I admit, that does sound rather good!

Last modified on: September 25th 2012

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