In the middle of the XIXe century, this offshoot opera in three acts by Jacques Offenbach was so successful that great chefs embarked on the creation of dishes and desserts named after the Beautiful Helen. Recipes revisited again today.
It was the happy era of the Second Empire and its pleasures. Rich hours of operetta and opera food where the "divas" triumphed. Like the great Hortense Schneider, unforgettable Beautiful Helen, set to music by Offenbach.
Created in Paris, Les Variétés, on December 17, 1864, this work starred for five months. A record! To the point that, if we believe The Grand Larousse gourmet (1), several restaurant chefs from the Grands Boulevards in Paris then embarked on the creation of dishes baptized in his name: Belle-Hélène tournedos, poultry supremas Belle-Hélène … or the famous Belle-Hélène pears, poached in a syrup then, drained and cooled, served on vanilla ice cream, topped with hot chocolate sauce!
This dessert was signed by a young chef still beginner, but future grand master of universal gastronomy: Auguste Escoffier, "King of cooks, cook of the kings ", Also the origin of another dessert (but fishing!), Tribute to another famous singer: Melba.
At that time, he was still committed to Nice at the French Restaurant, and was not 20 years old!
Today, it is the Alsatian Christine Ferber, the candy fairy Of Niedermorschwihr (2) well known to readers of The cross, who revisits his recipe for Belle-Hélène pears in the style of a divine jam …