7 mouth-watering food items and the interesting history behind their names

How did Nachos get its name? And how did a certain kebab came to be known as Tundey?

When food items have self-explanatory names like Rajma chawal or scrambled egg – you know exactly what you are putting inside your mouth. They leave no room for curiosity. But sometimes, putting the base material of a dish as its title doesn’t quite do justice to its rich culinary history. Here’s a list of such special food items and the interesting history behind their complicated names.

1. Caesar Salad
Restaurateur Caesar Cardini created this dish in 1924 when one day he ran low on supplies in his restaurant and at the same time some hungry customers dropped in. He didn’t want to leave without food. So he made a dish with whatever ingredients he had. which included romaine lettuce, garlic, croutons, olive oil, eggs, parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce. And that’s how it got its name. Later Cardini patented the dressing of the salad and even today it is sold as “Cardini’s Original Caesar dressing mix”.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad (Photo: Dreamstime)

2. Nachos
In 1943, some army wives arrived at The Victory Club and Chef Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya (called Nacho for short) decided to make something new. So, he poured melted cheese over tortilla chips, added some jalapeño peppers and served. The ladies loved it and asked the chef about its name. He replied “nachos especiales”, and thus, the name stuck.

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3. French Toast
The toast which was not invented in France has a popular story behind its name. The French toast, also known as German toast or Spanish toast, was first made by medieval European cooks. In 1724 an Albany, New York, innkeeper named Joseph French dipped bread in milk and eggs and fried it. He called it– ‘French Toast’ while what he meant was French’s Toast. 

French Toast 

French Toast (Photo: Dreamstime)

4. Eggs Benedict
There are two different tales behind the invention of Eggs Benedict.  One version has it that Eggs Benedict derived its name from Lemuel Benedict who hailed from New York. To cure his hangover, he ordered crisp bacon, buttered toast, poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce (a mixture of egg yolk and liquid butter) at Waldorf Hotel. Later the hotel modified the version and added it to their menu.

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Egg Benedict

Egg Benedict

Another story goes like this — the head chef of Delmonico’s in New York, Charles Ranhofer, whipped up the dish for a Mr and Mrs LeGrand Benedi in the year 1893 and later named it Eggs Benedict.

5. Tunday Kebab

This Lucknow specialty was made for a Nawab with no teeth. Chef Haji Murad Ali, who apparently had just one hand, first made the dish using 160 spices. Tunday is a Hindi slang for a person with a hand disability, and hence it was called Tunday Kabab.

Photo: Tunday kababi

Photo: Tunday kababi

6. Lobster Newberg
An American seafood made with lobster, butter, cream, cognac, sherry, eggs and Cayenne pepper was introduced in the late 19th century by Captain Ben Wenberg, a wealthy sea captain. He used to customarily eat at Delmonico’s Restaurant and one day, he entered the cafe and announced a new way to cook lobster (From where he originally got the idea has never been discovered). Later, the chef at Delmonico’s Restaurant recreated it as Lobster Wenberg, but was finally named as Lobster Newberg (keeping the creative rights in mind).

Lobster Newberg (Photo: Dreamstime)

7. Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza was first made in Naples, named after the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. Chef Raffaele Esposito made this pizza with fresh tomato, basil and mozzerella cheese topping (the colours as same as the Italian flag). Queen appreciated the pizza and wrote a thank you note to the chef. Touched by this gesture Chef Raffaele Esposito decided to name the pizza after her.

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