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The shape of things to come: straightened croissants


Is a straightened croissant a croissant? Semantically it is not, and neither in reality, argues Adam Gopnik in The New Yorker in view of the decision by British supermarket chain Tesco to discontinue to horn shaped pastry in favor of the straight one. Tesco claims the latter is easier on those who cut it up to spread butter, jam or marmalade. An entertaining and enlightening exchange ensued at Verb. Our partner in Fort Lauderdale swore over his life for the quality of Croissan’Time, the French bakery near his home where he gets his fare, whereas our partner in Venice would not change those he has for breakfast at the Caffè Rosso. Our partner in Buenos Aires shed light on the myths surrounding the origin of this pastry, possibly only second to the bread in its universality (or perhaps that honor should go to the pizza, that discovery that Marco Polo claimed to have brought from Mongol lands yet it had strangely vanished there until reintroduced from the West much more recently): the most common version is that the Turks commanded by Kara Mustafa Pasha were preparing to take Vienna by assault after laying siege for over two months, “but they were not counting on that guild that never sleeps: the bakers, who raised the alarm and helped defend the city.” In celebration, the bakers created the ancestor of today’s croissant, which was known as “lune croissant.” A second, less known version has a certain Kolschitzky, either a soldier or businessman, who infiltrated Turkish troops, and learned their plans, helping plan the defeat of the Ottomans: bakers paid homage to him with a creation called halmbond, apparently the predecessor of today’s croissant. There is yet a third, mostly ignored version, according to which the origins go back to an Austrian convent where nuns baked little bread rolls shaped like ram horns. In any case, the croissant apparently was introduced by Marie Antoinette in France after arriving from Austria to wed Louis XVI in what would prove a fateful marriage. As fateful as the date when the Viennese and their allies thronged out of the gates of the walls to defend themselves against the Ottomans in 1683, on September 11th.


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