Chicken a la King
- The origin of this dish, tasty enough for a king but not named in honor of one, is so controversial that word sleuths can make no sense of it. However, two possibilities seem to have attracted more "origin hunters" than any other.The stronger possibility—diced chicken in a sherry-cream sauce— was served at the Claridge Hotel in London. This dish was dreamed up by its chief to honor J. R. Keene, who had won the Grand Prix in 1881. The name of this delectable comestible may have been Chicken a la Keene, a name later corrupted by changing Keene to King. But who knows?And then again, some people attribute the invention to another Keene, the son of J. R. This Keene, with a forename of Foxhall, who modestly claimed that he was the world's greatest amateur athlete, may have suggested the recipe to the chef at New York's Delmonico, where presumably the name of the dish ended with a flourish of a la Keene, but not for long. The public lost interest in the Keenes, and Chicken a la Keene became Chicken a la King. However the dish got its name, first mentioned in print in 1912, it became a standard luncheon item, served from a chafing dish with rice or on a pastry shell.
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.
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