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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Colbert a French culinary term. One can hardly repress a yawn on learning that the name was that of a French statesman of the 17th century, whose chef gave his name to a sauce, a manner of preparing sole, and a soup. When one reflects that Claudette Colbert, the most beautiful and perhaps the best loved of Hollywood film stars of the 1930s–1940s, was of French origin, but that it is not she who is meant here, one can only lament that the French system of honouring people by naming dishes for them (see à la) petered out in the early part of the 20th century. On the other hand, one would not wish Claudette to have been associated with an anachronism; and the presence (according to Favre, c.1905) of brussels sprouts in the supposedly 17th-century Soupe à la Colbert seems to be one (see Meiller and Vannier, 1991). All the same, she could have had her name on the mysterious iced crème, which Favre (again) believed to have been called Colbert (although his only mention of it is not under Colbert, but under bavarois, where he merely said that it should not be confused with a bavarois).