Friday, December 11, 2009

Melba: The Dame and the Dessert

So this is my first time participating in Postcard Friendship Friday, But I figured it was about time to try it! And speaking of postcards of friendship, I wanted to share one of the amazing postcards I received as a HUGE surprise in my mailbox. The Postcrossing Official Forum hosted a "Random Act of Smileness" drawing to win a set of beautiful Australian maxi cards. Anyone could nominate a person who made them smile, and then a winner was drawn at random. I knew about the contest but had no idea I was nominated, and I was totally shocked when the prize showed up in my mailbox. Hurray! :)

This card shows Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), an Australian soprano and the first Australian to achieve international fame as a classical musician. Her parents came from Scotland, but Dame Melba was a native Australian and considered it her home throughout her life. She had an astoundingly successful career, with her major success being her appointment as prima donna at Covent Garden for nearly 30 years. Her albums always sold for a higher price than other singers', and before WWI, her performances were always known to be lavish affairs - important social events where women wore their finest jewels.

Dame Melba received that title from the British Empire for her charity work during World War I. She was the first entertainer to receive the title. She was also the first Australian to grace the cover of Time Magazine, and she was chosen to sing the Australian national anthem at the official opening of the Parliament House in Canberra on the day which Canberra became Australia's capital city.

Despite these accolades, Dame Melba was known to be a temperamental diva, and fought tooth and nail to be the center of attention whenever possible. She was generally not well-liked by her colleagues, and the three words "I am Melba" were considered an acceptable explanation for her frequent demands.

The stamp on this lovely card shows a delightful confection named after Dame Melba - the Peach Melba. This dessert was invented around 1892 by the French chef Auguste Escoffier at the Savoy Hotel in London to honor the Dame. In its original incarnation, the decadent dessert was displayed on an ice sculpture of a swan. The swan carried peaches, which rested on a bed of vanilla ice cream, and were topped with spun sugar. In 1900 Escoffier altered the recipe, omitting the ice swan and topping the dessert with fresh raspberry purée, which is how it is still served today.

11 comments:

Marie Reed said...

I want to eat this post! What a feisty lady. Why oh why don't we all wear tiaras? That is so neat that you have a slideshow in your header! Happy PFF! So glad you joined!

Postcardy said...

That looks a lot more appetizing than Melba toast.

Sheila said...

What a fantastic surprise! Thanks for all the interesting information, I love how much can be learnt from postcards.

MrCachet said...

Is this a Maximum Card? Beautiful image, regardless of her temperament.

Mary said...

What a fantastic card, an interesting story, and who knew there were contests in postcrossings! Thanks for sharing this.

Irene said...

I'm with Marie, I too want to eat this post. You've given us a lot of information. I like the original idea of the Peach Melba with the sugar and ice sculpture.

Lyneen said...

Yummy... the real food looks almost like the stamp... great history here... thanks for sharing. PFF

steviewren said...

Like I commented on the last PFF blog I visited...you learn something new everyday. Welcome to PFF!

viridian said...

Welcome to PFF. I learned something new too - a good thing. Is Melba toast named after her too?

postcardparadise said...

Congratulations on your prize; what a great surprise. I absolutely love this post. I love anything that has to do with opera singers, but I had no idea that Peach Melba and Dame Melba were connected. Thanks!
Christine

Sara said...

wow! look at her?! she's so beautiful - i like those roaring twenties as women were women with NORMAL bodies and curves!

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