A sticky end : the story of the meringue
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Odd though it seems for such a delicate creation, meringue originated in the rural Bernese Oberland. At some unknown time in the pre-Revolutionary eighteenth century, an Italian baker by the name of Gasparini invented a baked concoction of egg whites, sugar and cream, and named it after Meiringen, the scene of his inspiration. Documented names of the rich dessert include meiring (plural meiringe) and meirinken – until Louis XV took a liking to Gasparini’s creation, whereupon the French name “meringue” took over.

Unfortunately, the documentary evidence for Meiringen’s noble patrimony went up in smoke long ago during two disastrous town fires. Undaunted, researchers in Frankfurt’s Culinary Museum early in the twentieth century turned up further solid evidence. Meiringen’s bigwigs thought their claim to fame was now secure … but Allied fighter-pilots during World War II had other ideas, and bombed Frankfurt – and the museum – into dust. Nonetheless, the locals are sticking to their story, and patisseries in Meiringen still churn out 1500 top-quality meringues a day to fuel the legend.

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