Food For Thought: From Napoleon’s Brandy to Crêpe Suzette

People are often remembered for their deeds, some are frozen in time by statues, remembered in a street name, or by the famous blue plaque that adorns many houses in Great Britain. There are a select few however that are immortalised in food and EUFD, the Europeana Food and Drink Picture Library, has matched up some famous foods from the picture library.

Napoleon – ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’ by Laurent Dabos. (1761-1835)

Advertisement for Courvoisier cognac – the brandy of Napoleon. French distilleries named their best cognac Napoleon as a symbol of prestige and quality. Still used today Napoleon Brandy is known as XO, extra old, and designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years.

EUFD002474 & EUFD002474 – TopFoto / EUFD
EUFD002474 & EUFD002474 – TopFoto / EUFD

ANNA PAVLOVA as The Dying Swan from SWAN LAKE in 1931 & Strawberry Pavlova

The meringue-based dessert, Pavlova, is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The dessert is believed to have been created in honour of the dancer either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.

EUFD002473 – TopFoto / EUFD
EUFD002473  &  EUFD002479– TopFoto / EUFD

Dame Nellie Melba, GBE (19 May 1860 or 61 – 23 February 1931)

Born Helen Porter Mitchell, Dame Nelli Melba was a legendary Australian opera soprano and probably the most famous of all sopranos. She was the first Australian to achieve international recognition in the form of one of the first entertainers to become a DBE in 1918.

Peach Melba was created by Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London for Dame Nellie Melba who was living there for a time.

EUFD002468 & EUFD002478 – TopFoto / EUFD
EUFD002468 & EUFD002478 – TopFoto / EUFD

Canapes of melba toast topped with crab and crossed chives – Melba Toast -was created by Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London when Dame Nellie Melba had a bout of illness while she was living there. In the picture, the Opera singer is shown as Lakme, one of the many French roles in which she excelled.

EUFD002480 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105172 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD
EUFD002480 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105172 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD

M. Auguste Escoffier – creator of many signature dishes and the father of french cooking

For years M. Escoffier carried the fame of French cooking all over the world including England, the United States, Canada, Spain, Russia and Brazil – he personally served Napoleon III and once the ex-Kaiser was at a banquet which Escoffier had prepared. King Edward brought him to London and for many years he worked at the Savoy, the Ritz and the Carlton – photo shows the last picture of Auguste Escoffier at his villa at Monte Carlo, 12 February 1935.

On the right, you can see a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt by Manuel Orazi (1898-1934). The celebrity chef, at this time at the Savoy Hotel, created the dessert, fraises à la Sarah Bernhardt, in her honour which consists of strawberries with pineapple and Curaçao sorbet.

EUFD002470 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD101019 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD
EUFD002470  & EUFD101019 – TopFoto / EUFD

Rita Hayworth, glamorous Columbia star and actress. 5 January 1947 & Margarita

Enrique Bastate Gutierrez claimed he invented the drink Margarita in Tijuana in the 1940s for Rita Hayworth. Hayworth’s real name was Margarita Cansino.

Margarita: 1 third Grand Marnier – 1 third tequila – 1 third freshly squeezed lime juice
Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with lime juice and dip into salt. Fill a tall shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, the Grand Marnier liqueur and the tequila. Add sugar to taste. Shake and pour into the glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

EUFD002484 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105118 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD
EUFD002484 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105118 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD

Suzanne Reichenberg (1853-1924), French actress & Crêpe Suzette

Suzanne Reichenberg made her debut in 1868 in the role of Agnes at l’Ecole des femmes at the Comedie-Francaise. She was queen of the theatre ingenues from 1870 to 1900. The dessert Crêpe Suzette, Orange Liqueur Crepes, was named in honour of the French actress.

EUFD002484 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105118 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD
EUFD002484 – TopFoto / EUFD & EUFD105118 – ThePictureKitchen / EUFD

In the spirit of maintaining good relations through food, the Europeana Food and Drink project has combined a rich display of food and drink cultural heritage imagery, now available to license for publication. Much of the collection is on offer for the first time to publishers and illustrates the depth of local cuisine giving a new insight to the traditional EU dish as it has migrated and adapted across the world. From simple ingredients, cooking utensils, and baking techniques to complex dishes and the many characters that are involved in the food industry, the EU Food & Drink Picture Library (EUFD) illustrates food and drink history in photographs, artwork and objects.

The EU Food & Drink Picture Library is managed by the Europeana Food and Drink project partner For further information, have a look at

By John John Balean, TopFoto