Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Turks and the Croissant?

Siege of Vienna, 1683
The Croissant is pastry widely associated with the French. But with a close look to its history, the French were did not invented the croissant. Surprisingly, one of those involved for the croissant was the Turks. Many legends detailed that a siege of the Turks led to the creation of the croissant. It was a good story but with many variations. However, even though there are differences in the story, the involvement of the Turks helped to give the shape of the croissant.

The Turks involvement with the croissant began with the 1683 Siegeof Vienna, in Austria. The Turks wanted to capture the city in order to open the door of Europe for conquest. During the siege, the Turks liked to use their sneaky tactics against Vienna. They dug trenches around the city; and from those trenches, they will start digging tunnels to reach under the wall. They will then set charges and blow it up that would lead to collapse the walls above. The Austrians painstakingly tried to detect these tunnels. They would use buckets of water placed near the walls in order to find the location where the Turks were digging. During the middle of the siege, a baker managed to find one of these tunnels. The Austrians then thwarted the Turks from destroying their walls. Later on, a relief army arrived at the scene and Vienna and Europe was saved. The baker, in celebration of the victory, then baked crescent-shaped bread. The bread that he baked was called Kipfel, which means crescent. The reason for the shape was given many reasons. One reason was that it was the symbolism of the crescent in the Turkish flag. Another was that it was an emulation of the crescent-shape trenches of the Turks around the city. Nevertheless, the crescent shape of the bread that is being eaten symbolizes the devouring or the defeat of the Turks.

There are however a variation of this story. Another story of the croissant is not set placed in Vienna, but in Budapest.  Nevertheless, the enemy remained similar, the Turks.

The Turks was said to be represented the shape of kipfel or the croissant. Indirectly, without the Turks, the popular shape of the croissant or croissant itself will not have existed. The Kipfel was then brought to France, by either Maria Antoinette or by August Zang, an Austrian baker, and was later named croissant, which in French meant crescent. It then continued to develop and became a famous bread of the French.

See also:

Civitello, L. Cuisine and Culture: A History of Food and People. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, 2011.

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