Pavlova confirmed to be from New Zealand, not Australia

Music 26/08/2015

It's been settled, the pavlova is ours!

The Oxford English Dictionary has settled a long-running debate between Australia and New Zealand over who invented the pavlova.

The meringue dessert was historically named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who visited both countries back in the 1920s.

Australians and New Zealanders agree on that, but when it comes to who invented it... we guess you could say theirs a slight debate.

In the recently relaunched online edition, the OED says the first recorded pavlova recipe did actually appear in New Zealand in 1927.

This was in a book called Davis Dainty Dishes, published by the Davis Gelatine company, and it was a multi-coloured jelly dish.

But New Zealanders claim the meringue version also originated there, with recipes for it appearing in publications in 1928 and 1929.

Dr Helen Leach from New Zealand's University of Otago is something of a pavlova expert.

"I can find at least 21 pavlova recipes in New Zealand cookbooks by 1940, which was the year the first Australian ones appeared," the author of The Pavlova Story told the Daily Telegraph.

However... the Australians claim centres on a recipe by Bert Sachse, a chef in Perth, Western Australia, but that is believed to date from around 1935.

The OED is the only English dictionary that aims to trace the first known use of every sense of every word in the English language.

"Linguistically it probably isn't that important," the OED's Fiona Macpherson said about the pavlova ruling. "We have to be neutral about this kind of thing, we're just interested in where we can get the evidence and what it actually means."

But she told the BBC: "It probably does matter, at least if you're from Australia or New Zealand - it's nice to think that you might have coined or created something."

In fact, although the OED credits the first written record of the recipe to New Zealand, it lists the origin, rather ambiguously, as "Austral. and N.Z."

So a ruling has been made, but the debate may well continue.

[See more on this story at BBC]