Marzipan History

Hovering legends around the world famous sweet

According to one of the legends, marzipan was invented in Italy, in the year of the great crop failure, when almonds turned out to be the only product that survived all the hardships. It was then that savvy Italians began to make bread, pizza and sweet marzipan out of it. However, the French, in turn, claim that it was they who invented marzipan.

And then what about the Germans, who have their own marzipan capital – the former Hanseatic city of Lübeck (Tallinn, by the way, was also a city of the Hanseatic League)? After all, for many centuries they have been making the most delicious marzipan mass of the highest quality (according to a secret old recipe!), Which is used by confectioners all over Europe! And the word itself most likely comes from the German language …

The legend of "March bread"

Widely known thanks to the work of the wonderful Estonian writer Jaan Kross.

According to Kross’ book “March’s Bread” (Est. Mardileib), the first pharmacy in Europe (Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy, Est. Tallinna Raeapteek, first mentioned in 1422) had a smart apprentice pharmacist named Mart.

One day, a ratman (a member of the city council, magistrate) named Kalle fell ill and master Johan promised to prepare him a wonderful medicine “mitridacium”. But the master had a severe runny nose, he constantly sneezed, each sneeze swept all the prescribed powders out of the dishes, so Mart had to make the medicine. And he mixed other ingredients into the drug, tastier, because he also had to take the medicine in the presence of the ratman (what if it was poisonous ?!) otherwise the ratman would have guessed from Mart’s expression how disgusting it tastes.

As a result, the ratman liked the medicine mixed by the pharmacist’s apprentice and cured his stomach. And it was Ratman who called the medicine “March Bread”

Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy

The first production of marzipan figures

In fact, the named pharmacy knew about the beneficial properties of marzipan and made it already at the beginning of the 17th century, when Arent Passer made two forms for marzipan in the form of the city coat of arms for the Tallinn Town Hall Pharmacy. And in 1806, the Tallinn confectioner Lorenz Caviezel began the purposeful production of marzipan figures.


True progenitors

In fact, the most meticulous historians are more inclined to the version of Persian origin, although in the Persian tradition marzipan did not yet have its current name and meaning. The physician Abu Bakr Mohammed Ben Zakaria ar-Razi (865–925) glorified this oriental delicacy primarily as a medicine. He emphasized its beneficial effects on the brain, but also warned that excessive consumption of it can cause obesity (oh yes, there are a lot of calories). Paradoxically, marzipan is really good for the brain because almonds contain a lot of lecithin, which, according to modern chemistry, stimulates the work of nerve cells.

Europe claimants

The land of true connoisseurs

In addition to Italy, France, Germany and Estonia, representatives of the nobility in Spain, Holland and Russia also enjoyed marzipan (and emperors too!). Marzipan was widely used in Austria and Hungary. To this day, this delicacy is very popular among modern Europeans.

What could be better as a delicious Christmas present in Germany or Hungary, and of course Estonia? Wouldn’t a marzipan “heart” melt the heart of some beauty on Valentine’s Day?

A person with exquisite taste will always appreciate such a gift!

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