From Zabaglione to Sabayon

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The recipe trail for yolk foams is spotty. Zabaglione— from a root meaning “mixed,” “confused”—was an Italian yolk-thickened spiced wine in the 15th century, and by 1800 was sometimes foamy and sometimes not. (Even some modern zabaglione recipes are not whipped but stirred, and come out more like a winey crème anglaise.) The French discovered zabaglione around 1800, and by 1850 had incorporated it into their system of sauces as a dessert cream with the more refined-sounding name sabayon. In the 20th century they extended the principle to savory cooking broths and stocks, and to lighten classical yolk-based butter and oil sauces, including hollandaise and mayonnaise. (For the sauces.)