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Origins You Can Eat

January 22, 2016

Did John D. Rockefeller ever eat oysters Rockefeller? Here’s how some tasty foods got their names. 

Bananas Foster

Richard Foster was the chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission in the early 1950s and a friend of restaurateur Owen Brennan, who also served on the commission. Foster must have loved bananas, because in 1951 Brennan had his chef, Paul Blangé, whip up this dessert—bananas cooked flambé in rum, butter, and banana liqueur, served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream— and then named it in Foster’s honor.

bananas foster

Sachertorte

In 1832 Austrian chancellor Prince Klemens von Metternich was expecting several important guests for dinner and asked his head chef to come up with a special dessert for the occasion. The chef took sick before he could think of anything, so the task fell to a 16-year-old apprentice named Franz Sacher. The dessert he came up with, a chocolate sponge cake layered with apricot jam and covered with chocolate icing, was a simple and delicious departure from the elaborate desserts of the day. It wasn’t until Sacher finished his training as a cook that he began selling his creation to the public. Once he did, “the cake by this man Sacher” soon became the signature dessert of Viennese cuisine.

Sachertorte

Oysters Rockefeller

It’s not clear that John D. Rockefeller ever ate oysters Rockefeller or even knew that they existed. What is clear is that when fancy French snails were in short supply in 1899 and a New Orleans restaurateur named Jules Alciatore replaced them with a dish of local oysters served on the half-shell topped with bread crumbs and a secret sauce, he wanted a name that let diners know that the oysters were every bit as classy as the snails. So he named them after John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and the richest man in the world. Antoine’s, the restaurant that introduced the dish in 1899, is still in business more than a century later. It still serves the oysters, and the recipe remains a closely guarded secret to this day.

oysters rockefeller

Uncle John's Canoramic Bathroom Reader

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