Friday, March 13, 2015

Burned Brezels

Sorry for the mixed language but the title of this blog at least is alliterated. What is called in German Brezel is known in English as pretzel. It seems that Anglophone lovers of the "slung" goody like it hard. The German "b" becomes a "p" in English and while in the German language the letter "z" alone stands for a sound like "tz" Anglophones must place a "t" in front of the "soft z" to make it sound like "tz".

So you like your pretzels hard and crusty but not as hard as the ones of an archaeological find in Regensburg. In fact, as the photo shows only parts of burned pretzels were dug out together with three charred rolls (Semmeln) again too hard for consumption.

To the left the burned rolls. For comparison:
The parts of the charred pretzels are placed on top of freshly made pretzels.
Today, March 13, falls on a Friday. Friday the 13th is a combination where some of my superstitious compatriots would rather stay in bed for the whole day. So the burned pretzel story goes like this:

At the site in Regensburg where the archeologists located the "over-baked" goods a baker named Johann Georg Held had his bakery in the 18th century. The mishap most likely happened on a Friday the 13th, when Johann Georg furiously chucked the results of his Black Friday into a hole in his bake house. Even mice refused the spoilage so that 21st-century archeologists are now touting their find as the primordial mother of all Bavarian pretzels although my loyal readers know that pretzels on a stained-glass window in Freiburg's Munster church are much older.

The combination of baking and pretzels rings a bell. In his comic Max and Moritz of 1865 German cartoonist Wilhelm Busch presents two details. In the Easter season the two rascals enter through a chimney into the local bake house to steal Brezeln but not those of the salty type. So the translator correctly calls them cracknels.

Aber schon mit viel Vergnügen
Sehen sie die Brezeln liegen.
But the cracknels, precious treasure,
On a shelf they spy with pleasure.

The chair breaks and:

Schwapp! - Da liegen sie im Brei. Schwapp! - into a trough of dough!

Max and Moritz eventually wrapped in dough are pushed into the baker's oven:

In dem Ofen glüht es noch
Ruff! Damit ins Ofenloch!
There's the oven, all red-hot,
Shove 'em in as quick as thought.

I remember having seen a similar oven at my grandparents' farm. Note, the baking technique has not changed from the Middle Ages to the middle of the 20th century.

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