The pavlova, that airy dessert made from crisp meringue shell topped with whipped cream and fruit, is quintessentially Australian—at least according to the Australians.
New Zealanders would beg to disagree.
Something of a sibling rivalry exists between the two countries, and they love to squabble over who gets credit for anything from Russell Crowe to a racehorse named Phar Lap. One of their longest-running disputes is over the origin of the pavlova, or “pav,” as both sides affectionately call it. Australians say they invented the recipe; New Zealanders say they did. In reality, they’re probably both wrong.
The pavlova is named after the famed Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926. As the New Zealand story goes, the chef of a Wellington hotel at the time created the billowy dessert in her honor, claiming inspiration from her tutu. Australians, on the other hand, believe the pavlova was invented at a hotel in Perth, and named after the ballerina when one diner declared it to be “light as Pavlova.”