A Stir The Pots Post

My pêche, your Melba!

by | Jul 21, 2008 | Food

Cimg5184It being summer, the season for fresh fruit, my wife requested another of her favorites, poached peaches. Off season, she will get a yearning and buy the glass-jar variety from Trader Joe’s. Her pleasure is my happiness, especially since it is a  simple  preparation to make this dessert that reminds me of childhood. Its pedigree can be dated back to the 1890’s when Auguste Escoffier, the designer of modern French cuisine simplified the codified style from its elaborate state as designed by its originator Antoine Carême.

One of Escoffiers signature dishes was named after an Australian diva named Nellie Melba. After watching her perform on stage, he wanted to dedicate a dish in her honor. It was said that she liked ice cream but was afraid of its cooling effect on her vocal chords. So Escoffier decided to put in some other elements, including peaches, raspberries, red currant jelly  and, of course, ice cream. I have not picked up either of my two copies of Escoffier’s recipe books for some time. They are really wonderful tools, like references that read like testaments, not in a religious sense, but a kitchen primer of the highest order.

Thinking about Escoffier reminds me of having once seen a French chef prepare peaches for a dessert. He poached and peeled them, and then with surgical precision carefully pushed a pairing knife into the fruit, magically removing the  pit through a tiny opening that he made on the top of the fruit. He then  filled the cavity with lavender-flavored ice cream. Sublime!  Forgetting how he did that, tonight I just cut my peaches in half,  made a light syrup, and poached them untill pushing a knife into the flesh showed that they were tender. I let them cool and without garnish we had them for a refreshing dessert after dinner; maybe not your Melba but my pêche all the same!


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