- English muffin half, toasted and buttered
- Canadian bacon
- poached egg
- Hollandaise sauce (egg yolks, butter, lemon juice, gently cooked)
Assemble in the order named.
Some recipes have well-documented beginnings or traceable roots and definite methods/components or clear evolutions. Others, like Eggs Benedict, just popped up one day and acquired dueling origin stories.
The two I’ve seen are set in the USA in the last decade of the 1800s:
One says that a hung-over man named Lemuel Benedict went through a buffet line at the Waldorf-Astoria, piling up a slice of buttered toast, bacon, poached eggs and Hollandaise Sauce. The maitre d’hotel saw him, substituted English muffins and ham for the toast and bacon, and named the dish after Mr. Benedict.
The other one says that Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, a regular at Delmonico’s restaurant, came up with the dish in concert with Delmonico’s maitre d’hotel.
Me, I believe the second story. In the first place, I suppose it’s possible to serve nice poached eggs on a buffet, but I doubt it. In the second place, if I were a maitre d’hotel and I substituted two major ingredients in a dish I’d seen someone slap together at random, I’d name it after myself. In the third place, why would there be Hollandaise Sauce on a breakfast buffet? Sausage gravy, yes, but Hollandaise Sauce?
Finally, if you were hung-over, would you willingly choose to eat a pile of stuff including poached eggs and Hollandaise Sauce? Drunk, yes, but hung-over? Now I ask you, would you?
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Come up with dueling origin stories for, say, cream of mushroom soup. No Fight Club references, please.
janeJanuary 8, 2014 at 10:31am
We could always attempt to determine the origin of the Hot Brown! I’m betting the closest we can get is: It was first made at the Brown Hotel!
I love the debate you mention. I totally agree with your reasoning. Did you know: Emile LeGasse (erk, spelling!) bought Delmonico’s some time back in order to preserve the storied restaurant?
Marian AllenJanuary 8, 2014 at 11:19am
I did not know that about Emeril — Good for him!
The Hot Brown did originate at The Brown Hotel, and Jenny Benedict invented Benedictine spread. Between those and bourbon, you got three of my favorite comestibles right there. 😉