B for Bretzel [ABC of German Food]
I know what you are thinking, ‘Those are Pretzels…with P’, well…. no, actually these soft snacks are called Bretzels in Germany and it is said that its name changed in the USA because there were re introduced by the Pennsylvanian Dutch community. Still in Germany, even though the name varies throughout the region, they are still named with a B: Brezn, Bretzel, Brezzl, Brezgen, Bretzga, Bretzet, Bretschl and so on.
These snacks go way back, some say even to the early middle ages. It is a baked bread, commonly shaped into a twisted knot, complemented with a lye treatment and seasoned with salt. It’s name may derive from the latin ‘bracellus’ or ‘bracchiola’ (bracelet/little arms) that could have to do with its shape.
Even though people still argue about its origin, the Bretzel has (to this day) big ties with the Christian religion. Some say it’s shape resemble hands is prayer or that the three holes represent the Holy Trinity. But the biggest reason yet, is because it’s minimal ingredients made them into a meal that could be eaten during lent season, and they quickly became the Easter and ‘lent meal’ by excellence. Just as we ‘hide eggs’ nowadays, people used to hide Bretzels for kids to find.
Since the 12th century, (mostly in southern Germany) the bretzel has been used by bakers and its guild as an emblem and can be found hanging outside bakeries. It’s usually savoury and can be eaten with butter, mustard or cold cuts. Sweet versions are quite popular in some regions, topped with sugar, chocolate or covered with nuts.
Mythology and traditions:
- New year’s Bretzels: On January 1st, people give each other slightly sweet Bretzels to symbolise good luck and good fortune.
- On the 1st of May, boys used to paint bretzels on the houses of girls they fancied.
- An upside down Bretzel could be a sign of disgrace.
- ‘Bretzel Sunday’ is a festival in Luxemburg were boys would give girls a bretzel to show they were in love with them, in return the girls would give them a decorated easter egg.
On a ‘type’ note:
ITC Bauhaus was designed by Edward Benguiat and Victor Caruso based on the prototype created by Herbert Bayer of the Dessau Bauhaus in 1925. It’s name comes from the Bauhaus movement and Design School created by Walter Gropius in 1919.