A Bit of History
Meringue isn’t just magical. It’s mysterious. No one can quite agree on its origins (and here’s a hint: it wasn’t invented in France), according to the Larousse Gastronomique, The New American Edition of the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia:
“Some historians of cookery believe that the meringue was invented by a Swiss pastry cook called Gasparini, who practiced his art in the small town of Meiringen (now in East Germany). Others maintain that the word comes from the Polish word marzynka and that the preparation was invented by a chef in the service of King Stanislas I Leszcyński, who later became Duke of Lorraine. The king passed on the recipe to his daughter, Marie, who introduced it to the French. Queen Marie Antoinette had a great liking for meringues and court lore has it that she made them with her own hands at the Trianon, where she is also said to have made vacherins, which are prepared from a similar mixture.”
While most food historians confirm Marie Antoinette’s love of meringues, some say that meringue goes back to a much earlier date… and that it was invented in England, of all places. The earliest documented recipe for a baked “beaten-egg-white-and-sugar confection” is the handwritten recipe for white biscuit bread by Lady Elinor Fettiplace in 1604 in Oxfordshire, which later appeared in the cookbook Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book — Elizabethan Country House Cooking.