Traitorous Brunch

On a side note, reader Emily asks if I can tell her where eggs Benedict comes from. Emily, it’s commonly thought that this dish, which consists of poached eggs, ham and Hollandaise sauce on an English muffin is named for Benedict Arnold, the turncoat American general who plotted to surrender the fort at West Point to the British during the Revolutionary War. It’s a shame that it isn’t because it would be an extremely clever culinary joke: just like General Arnold eggs Benedict is English underneath.

There are at least two competing theories about the origin of Eggs Benedict. One that it was invented at the legendary Delmonico’s by a Mrs. LeGrand Benedict who placed a creative off-menu order one morning in 1893. The other posits much the same thing, though it was the hung-over Lemuel Benedict at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1894.

The truth is that’s most likely French. Elizabeth David found a very similar dish in provincial French cuisine: brandade (a purée of salt cod, potatoes and garlic) and poached eggs on toast, topped with a dollop of Hollandaise. The name: œufs bénédictine. Thanks for the question, Emily!

4 thoughts on “Traitorous Brunch”

  1. Always nice seeing Elizabeth David cited; I found her several years back, and enjoyed her writing as much as Julia Child and M. F. K. Fisher, sometimes more. Thanks.

    1. She is terrific, isn’t she? Very methodical…very British. I love her books.


      – Joe

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