Pretzels at the Last Supper

I didn’t realize how long pretzels have been around. See Victoria Emily Jones, Praying with Pretzels.

The salty, twisted treats that we call pretzels have their origin, it is thought, in a seventh-century European monastery—according to lore, either in southern France, northern Italy, or Germany. Allegedly a monk invented them by shaping scraps of leftover bread dough to resemble arms crossed in prayer over the chest.

The pretzel’s Lenten link, not to mention its popularity as a year-round snack both inside and outside monastic communities, led artists to sometimes paint pretzels into Last Supper images.

Illustrations there, one of which I have pinched:

St. Bartholomew, from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, in Latin, Utrecht, The Netherlands, ca. 1440. Morgan Library, New York: PML M.917, fol. 228. http://www.themorgan.org/collection/hours-of-catherine-of-cleves/87#

Lidl, Hornchurch

Today would be Hitler’s birthday, as my father always used to say – he would have been 116 tomorrow, April 21, which is also the Queen’s birthday. So I found myself having to pass time in Hornchurch and visited the new Lidl. It was so large that it reminded me of a big Edeka (Aldi in Upminster is smaller).

Unfortunately it could only be built after the elegant Towers Cinema, later bingo hall, was demolished: here are pictures.

There seemed to be more German foods there than I have seen in Aldi, but I haven’t been often enough to give a reliable account. Leberkäse, the German delicacy containing neither Leber nor Käse, was sold as Bavarian Meat Loaf.

There was also Austrian sliced salami, some of which recalled Käsekrainer (though commenters may correct me).

Here, however, is an older picture of Speculatius at Aldi:

And here some more pictures of Lidl:

Aldi’s ‘London’ cheese cake

Aldi really has a lot of very British things in its selection, but I had not seen this cheesecake. This is the ultimate British product!

I remember this cheese cake as a regular item at the bakery in the 50s and 60s. It is sometimes called ‘London cheese cake’ to distinguish it from cheesecake that contains cheese. This one, as I remember it, was round and consisted of layers of flaky pastry topped with (usually dry) icing and coconut ‘shreds’. In between pastry and icing there was a blob of sponge cake. The strings of coconut must have been from a paste that was extruded in some way.

The Aldi version is rectangular and has luscious fondant icing and jam under it.

Following this, I decided to try the Greggs’ one, and on the way to Greggs I passed Kingcotts bakery, where they had their own.

The Kingcotts one was as I remember them, round, dryish but relieved by a plug of sponge cake i the middle.

The Greggs one was squarish and had jam but no cake. It was rather thin and meagre.

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The coconut shred/strips on top vary. The Greggs ones do look like desiccated coconut, very dry.

Kingcotts are the makers of the famous ‘real’ bread:

It is actually real bread. I recommend the cloudy white sandwich tin (sourdough).

Recommendations: the Kingcotts is the genuine cheesecake (£1), but only if you are in Upminster. You may have to try a local baker. The Aldi is delicious (I have forgotten the price) but not authentic: the puff pastry is slightly moist (in the direction of baklava) and the fondant icing with coconut dominates. I am sorry the Greggs is not quite right (80p). I must next find out why Godfreys in Hornchurch say theiir Tottenham cake is not the real thing, and whether Greggs is: I believe the pink colour has to come from a particular mulberry tree in Tottenham.

Amerikaner/black and white cookies

I always thought Amerikaner were a German thing and wondered where they got their name from, but it turns out they are a New York cookie (via smitten kitchen).

 


 

(Image by Ben Orwoll, public domain)

Amerikaner certainly used to be made with a form of ammonium carbonate called Hirschhornsalz (Salt of Hartshorn/baker’s ammonia) in German. This is widely sold in Germany, especially at this time of year. I saw it being used by London Eats, who posts Christmas cookies from abroad at this time of year:  Fedtebrød.

If you don’t want to make do with baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, the German Deli sells Hirschhornsalz, and also potash and Lebkuchen spice.

German Döner Kebab

German Döner Kebab shops are apparently everywhere.

Of course, it is a German thing. I think this is ‘Mile End coming soon’.

If you want to find out what meat they use, you have to click on the Location tab, which gives a choice of UK, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Sweden and Bahrain.

For the UK, you get Chicken, Beef or Mix. In Germany it was virtually always Turkey, sometimes beef if you were lucky.

Where’s the lamb? I think it’s because Germans don’t like it.

Aldi in the kitchen

While I’m on the subject of food, I saw that Aldi is currently advertising a stand mixer somewhat similar to KitchenAid and somewhat cheaper too. This is all in connection with the Great British Bake-Off on TV (which is preceded by ads for Lyle’s golden syrup and Dr. Oetker – when I was studying in Berlin from 1967-68 I found Dr. Oetker so irritating – I couldn’t understand how baking powder could be branded – and did not anticipate Dr. Oetker being on TV in the UK fifty years later – I spent less time thinking about Axel Springer).

Apparently Lidl has something similar.

Aldi Ambiano Premium. This model has what are described as attachments for mincing, sausage making, pasta making and cookie making. From what I read it sounds like these elements are devilishly complex to put together. I am struck by the ‘cookie attachment’:

It looks rather repulsive here. It is a typical German thing, surely? Ihat is, all German meat mincers come with a device for extruding a particular kind of biscuit dough, but can non-Germans use such a thing? – I’ve just been reminded by SistaRay on Twitter that it’s called Spritzgebäck. There are quite a few English-language recipes online. I think they may be sold here as Viennese biscuits. Certainly worth trying.

I must say I probably no longer need a mixer. I did buy a Bosch one, which was a Which? best buy, but it turned out to have exactly the problems the Aldi mincer attachment is said to have: you virtually had to be a qualified engineer to work out how to operate it. Maybe OK if you used it every day.

Another thing that strikes me in the Aldi brochure is the wooden toy kitchen.

This fabulous Wooden Premium Kitchen is ideal for your little one to explore and engage with imaginative role play. Your child could be an extravagant chef in the kitchen making the most amazing meals on the hob, in the oven or using the microwave. Afterwards they can wash up the dishes in the Belfast sink, put ingredients away in the fridge and prepare an ice cold drink using the drink and ice dispenser.

This shocked me, because I gradually realized that this kitchen doesn’t do anything. It’s all ‘imaginative role play’. But I actually had a toy stove as a child, and I could really cook things on it – I can still picture the little slices of carrot I boiled (had not yet read Elizabeth David). This Japanese toy kitchen must be similar to it. I can’t remember candles or what fuel source it had, but it was one of my favourite toys. Nowadays, it wouldn’t be allowed.

 

  • Oven – with opening & shutting door, shelf inside, and clicking dials

  • Washing machine – with opening & shutting door and clicking dials

 

Clicking dials! That’s all it does.

I have already in this blog mourned the loss of Mr. Potato Head to be used with real raw potatoes. Just as well I am older now.

Twin Peaks on the Wrekin

Poundland’s Toblerone rip-off seems to have been a peak too far. from The Guardian:

Poundland reaches deal with Toblerone makers over copycat bar

There is hope, however:

Poundland said that 500,000 of the bars, which are currently in production, would go on sale in December in “distinctive packaging” different from the light-gold wrapper it originally planned. …

 

Poundland said it would relaunch Twin Peaks in the new year “with a modified shape that still offers customers 180g of British-made chocolate inspired by the Wrekin and Ercall hills in Shropshire”.

It appears that Toblerone preferred making this settlement to risking a full court dispute.

This was quite an eye-opener for me. Whenever I listened to the Vaughan Williams setting of On Wenlock Edge, I stupidly assumed the Wrekin was a river, but that wouldn’t explain ‘his forest fleece’:

On Wenlock Edge the wood’s in trouble;
      His forest fleece the Wrekin heaves;
The gale, it plies the saplings double,
      And thick on Severn snow the leaves.
I think some of the cakes I have baked have a Wrekin touch.

The Sausage Man

I didn’t realize Herman Ze German didn’t make their own sausages.

sausages1

It seems they get them from The Sausage Man, who produce

Wholesale Bratwurst, Frankfurters, Hot Dogs in bulk, Bockwurst, Bratwurst, Weisswurst, Krakauer, Venison Salami, Foot Long Sausages, Beef Sausage, Chilli Dogs, Paprika Sausage, Chicken Sausage, Vegan Hot Dog Sausages, Beef Hot Dogs, Pepper Bite, Chipolata Sausages, Pepper Bite & Other German Related Products

sausages2

sausages3

Saitenwürschtle at Daimler: insult or slander?

There was a row between Daimler shareholders at the AGM buffet, because one of them was packing a doggie bag of frankfurters, which have more names than I realized, and the Stuttgart one is Saitenwürschtle, Saite being their skin. This was in Berlin, where perhaps there was fear of missing out on the sausages. There were 5500 shareholders present, and 12500 frankfurters had been ordered.

Wikimedia image:
120px-Wiener_Wuerstchen_fcm

Ein Aktionär habe mehrfach Würstchen vom Büfett zum Mitnehmen eingepackt, sagte die Sprecherin. Eine andere Anteilseignerin habe ihn darauf angesprochen – dies habe zu einem verbalen Schlagabtausch geführt. Um die Lage zu entspannen, habe man die Polizei gerufen. Die Aktionärin habe eine Anzeige wegen Beleidigung erstattet.

It seems that the gentleman helping himself insulted the lady who objected, since she is charging him with Beleidigung.

This story has been widely reported in the British press too. The Guardian:

The row broke out when one man repeatedly went to the buffet and began wrapping up several sausages to take home, whereupon a female shareholder intervened to tick him off, resulting in a shouting match and the police being called.

Answering shareholder questions at the meeting, Daimler board chairman Manfred Bischoff said: “We had to call the police to settle the matter.”

A Daimler spokeswoman said it was a verbal altercation and the police were called to calm matters – because the female shareholder wanted to file a complaint for slander, and did so.

They call Beleidigung slander, but more information is needed. A big legal translation problem!