As in biology, debates between evolutionists and creationists can occur in historical disciplines dealing with the origins of technological devices and processes. In food history, the popular belief that dishes are invented, in particular by chefs, reflects an underlying creationist model. In the case of the pavlova cake, this model demands a sole creator, time and place of invention. Since this dish is iconic in both Australia and New Zealand, disputes over its origin culminated in what the media termed the ““Pavlova Wars,”” despite the evidence from cookbook analysis for progressive parallel evolution of pavlovas from meringue cakes. Beyond this prominent example, the originality (or otherwise) of recipes is critical in contemporary contexts such as copyright law. While copyright legislation follows an evolutionary model of recipe origins, many authors of cookbooks have asserted the originality of their recipes. Yet even in eighteenth century Britain, when claims and counterclaims of plagiarism were even more common than today, there were cookbooks that treated recipes as a common good to be handed on to inexperienced cooks. This may be an example of a pre-Darwinian debate between creationists and evolutionists.
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Research Article| May 01 2010
The Pavlova Wars: How a Creationist Model of Recipe Origins Led to an International Dispute
helen m. leach
helen m. leach
helen m. leach is an emeritus professor of Anthropology at the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand. She has had a long interest in domestic life in historic and prehistoric times. Kitchen gardens and the evolution of recipes have been the subjects of many of her books and articles. She was a Rhodes Visiting Fellow at Oxford in 1980––1981 and between 2005 and 2008 led a research team investigating the development of New Zealand's culinary traditions.
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Gastronomica (2010) 10 (2): 24–30.
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helen m. leach; The Pavlova Wars: How a Creationist Model of Recipe Origins Led to an International Dispute. Gastronomica 1 May 2010; 10 (2): 24–30. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2010.10.2.24
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