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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today is...National Pretzel Day!

The Dutiful, the firemen of Hartford
are not without reward
A temple of Apollo on a velvet sward
And legend has it that small pretzels come
Not from Reading but from Rome
A suppliant's folded arms twisted by a thumb.
Marianne Moore, Pretiolae (1950)

Happy Pretzel Day! Did you know National Pretzel Day was first proclaimed by Congress way back in 1983 to recognize and celebrate the art of pretzel-making and the evolution of the pretzel industry.

According to some resources, Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation's pretzels. No wonder Pennsylvania's former Governor, Ed Rendell re-claimed April 26th as "National Pretzel Day in 2003" Pretzels are an important part of Pennsylvania history and economy. Why all this fanfare over the humble pretzel you may wonder? Well, "consider" the pretzel plaque below:)

The Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery remains a tradition in Lititz, Pennsylvania. And, that salt-besprinkled twist of dough as Dr. Preston Barba calls them, claims its fame is Moravian in origin. I found an article in a magazine called The Dutchman published in 1955. You may recognize the name of the food editor Edna Eby Heller. Edna Eby Heller is the author of many Pennsylvania Dutch Cookery books including The Art of Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking which was published around 1976, I believe. Here is an excerpt from her article in The Dutchman. (the above scan comes from the article also.)

The Lititz Pretzel can truly be called Moravian in origin. The original recipe itself belonged to Moravians. Throughout these ninety-four years since Julius Sturgis began manufacturing pretzels from the formula received from an itinerant baker many pretzel bakeries have opened in Lititz.

Have you ever wondered where the pretzel came from? The word itself, though German, was taken from Latin pretiola, meaning "little gift." In the Palatinate they were once given as rewards to children who learned their prayers. The shape of the pretzel suggested a pair of folded arms, an attitude of supplication. what a significant beginning for the lowly pretzel. From this grew our present multi-million dollar industry.

I suppose it's time to mention Auntie Anne's pretzel company which is also based out of PA. Dare I say, I'm not much of a fan of Auntie Anne's pretzels? However, I know many of you are. It seems Auntie Anne's has launched a new pretzel variety, Almond. I haven't tried it yet and probably won't. Have any of you tried it? It just so happens that I have a rather interesting recipe handy for Almond Pretzels from The Settlement Cookbook (1938 ed.) by Mrs. Simon Kander.

Almond Pretzels
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 lb. almonds, ground
2 cups flour
2 yolks and
2 whole eggs
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, the almonds, unblanched, and the rest of the ingredients. Mix and knead into one big roll. Let stand in ice chest to harden. Cut into pieces size of walnut. Roll each piece 1/2 inch thick and form into hearts, rings, cresents and pretzels. Bake in a moderately slow oven, 325 degrees.

Many of us think of pretzels as those treats we find in canisters or bags. You know pretzel logs, bites, sticks or the infamous hard shaped pretzel. I must admit, I've become rather fond of those as of lately. It has to do with the amount of time I've been spending at the computer:) I don't know about you "guys" but I have a tendency to "nosh" a bit while I'm flying about. And sometimes, those bites seem to add up into a whole lot of calories. I found myself grabbing at anything small and handy that would fit by my side and fulfill my every whim when those hunger pangs arrived, frequently after reading one of your mouth watering blogs:) One day when Marion and I went shopping, she stuffed a bag of Snyder's Olde Tyme Pretzels in the cart.

It immediately clicked in my head that Marion munches on pretzels while she's crocheting! Many a time I have visited her in her living room only to find her with a paper plate full of pretzels. She like the Sourdough variety:) On the plate you can see bits of glistening salt. She rubs the salt off and on to the plate and then neatly piles the broken pretzel on her lap. I guess it makes it easier for her to nibble as she pearls. Or is that in knitting? Anyway, she has quite a system. I guess after 93 years it's more like a habit:)

In The Secret Life of Food, by Martin Elkort, there is a brief explanation of the travels of the pretzel.

The pretzel comes not from Germany, as you might guess, but from Italy. The Italian word for pretzel, bracciatelli means "folded arms," a reference to its shape. According to legend, the pretzel was invented by a monk in Northern Italy in 1610, who baked pretzels in the shape of folded praying arms as prizes for his students who recited their catechism without error.

I don't remember ever being rewarded with "braided arms" when I was in Catholic School. I do remember a few rulers though:)

As many of you know, I have joined the world of "pinning." Pinterest enthralls me, although, I'm not exactly sure why. But anyway, I started a Pretzel Day Board on Pinterest a while back and I tell you, it has been so much fun! I had no idea there were so many delicious recipes available for both soft baked pretzels and those we buy at the grocery store. Not being a baking kinda gal, it just never would occur to me to actually make my own pretzels; dream as I might. However, there are oodles of home bakers such as yourselves who create all kinds of varieties!

National Pretzel Day

For those of you who are not on Pinterest, yet, here are a few of the links:

1. Raspberry Pretzel Salad
2. Copy Cat Recipe – Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
3. Pretzel and M&M Chocolate Cheesecake
4. Best Homemade Pretzels (not pictured)
5. Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites (not pictured)
6. Braided Soft Pretzels

And for you Paula Deen fans out there, Paula Deen's Strawberry Pretzel Salad

If any of you would like to include a link to your favorite pretzel post, by all means, leave it in the comment section. Nothing like "braiding arms" across the internet I always say:) Happy Pretzel Day!

18 comments:

  1. For me, it's the dipping mustard that makes the pretzel experience...

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  2. Happy Pretzel Day! That is a wonderfu speciality I love. Very addictive.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. I have a love-hate relationship with pretzels. I take spells where I love 'em, hard soft, fresh, pre-packaged, and then I'll go YEARS without wanting another.

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    1. I've been known to that a time or two, Channon. After a while there will be a lack of pretzels until the urge begins all over again:)

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  4. The poem at the top of this post is really fun! Thanks for all the important pretzel lore and also for the trivial pretzel lore.

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    1. Thanks Mae, and thanks for that link too. Pretty much sums it up!

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  5. PS: the New Yorker has a funny little sendup of Pinterest here: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/04/my-pinterest-boards.html#ixzz1t9VWVSN8

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  6. http://moderndayozzieandharriet.blogspot.com/2009/03/grammar-day-pretzels.html

    That's the link for our pretzel recipe. I'm not crazy about pretzels, but these are great when fresh! Note: This does not mean I'm making pretzels today to celebrate. Too much else going on here today; sorry!

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    1. Thanks for that link Marjie. I can't believe how young the boys look:)

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  7. I was just writing out my shopping list to include yeast for home-made soft pretzels! Little did I know it was pretzel day! I'm not a huge pretzel fan but I do like those fancy ones stuffed with peanut butter and cheese. Thanks for all the great lore Louise!

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  8. I didn't know pretzels were Moravian. Interesting! I've been meaning to attempt to make homemade pretzels. I need to try it!

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  9. For some unknown reason, I've never been a pretzel-eater. I do like Snyder products though. Might just grab a bag next trip to the store. Always have been tempted to buy some of those soft ones when I see a kiosk selling them. I better get with the program because I see recipes including pretzels in crusts, with chocolate, any way you can think of. Very creative.

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  10. I don't eat pretzels often, but when I do, they're the soft kind. Now I want to go to Auntie Anne's for a pretzel! Gah! They're closed now.

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  11. i just made cherries in the snow with a pretzel base--their saltiness makes them perfect!

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  12. i like pretzels too, i'm glad there's an outlet here that sells pretzel so i can continue to enjoy eating them and i like the ones with cinnamon.. dont think i want to try making them yet cos i think i do not know how to shape them yet!

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  13. Belated happy pretzel day - I love those soft and chewy pretzels - it was such a revelation to eat them after all those hard crunchy pretzels that didn't have much appeal - I have only tried one pretzel recipe that was a disaster but will try them again one day (soon I hope)

    I tried the pinterest link but it took me to a page not found - are you able to set privacy settings on your account so I can't see it - usually I can just click through even though I don't have an account - those recipes look very interesting - I enjoy browsing pinterest though I don't have an account

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise