[Sca-cooks] Habsburgian food, thge croissant

euriol euriol at ptd.net
Fri Nov 14 06:36:15 PST 2008

Here is the excerpt from foodtimeline.org:

The origin of the croissant is one of the great food legends of all time.
The Larousse Gastronomique offers this explanation regarding the origin of
the croissant: 

"Croissant...This delicious pastry originated in Budapest in 1686, when the
Turks were besieging the city. To reach the centre of the town, they dug
underground passages. Bakers, working during the night, heard the noise
made by the Turks and gave the alarm. The assailants were repulsed and the
bakers who had saved the city were granted the privilege of making a
special pastry which had to take the form of a crescent in memory of the
emblem on the Ottoman flag."
---Larousse Gastronomique, Jenifer Harvey Lang, editor [Crown:New York]
1988 (p. 338) 

It's an interesting story. Is it true? Alan Davidson, noted food historian,
expresses his doubts: 

"Culinary mythology--origin of the croissant
According to one of a group of similar legends, which vary only in detail,
a baker of the 17th century, working through the night at a time when his
city (either Vienna in 1683 or Budapest in 1686) was under siege by the
Turks, heard faint underground rumbling sounds which, on investigation,
proved to be caused by a Turkish attempt to invade the city by tunnelling
under the walls. The tunnel was blown up. The baker asked no reward other
than the exclusive right to bake crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the
incident, the crescent being the sympol of Islam. He was duly rewarded in
this way, and the croissant was born. The story seems to owe its origin, or
at least its wide diffusion, to Alfred Gottschalk, who wrote about the
croissant for the first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique [1938] and
there gave the legend in the Turkish attack on Budapest in 1686 version;
but on the history of food, opted for the 'siege of Vienna in 1683'
---Oxford Comapion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford Companion to Food:Oxford]
1999 (p. 232) 

While the history of pastry dates back to ancient times, the history of the
croissant [as we know it today], seems to be a relatively new invention.
Part of the problem may be how one defines "croissant." Food history
sources confirm that crescent-shaped pastries were baked in Vienna during
the 17th century and that they migrated to France soon thereafter. They
recount, but do not confirm/deny the story of the brave bakers who
supposedly created the first croissants. This is what Mr. Davidson has to

"...croissant in its present form does not have a long history...The
earliest French reference to the croissant seems to be in Payen's book "Des
substances alimentaires," published in 1853. He cites, among the "Pains dit
de fantasie ou de luxe," not only English 'muffins' but 'les croissants'.
The term appears again, ten years later, in the great Littre dictionary
[1863] where it is defined as 'a little crescent-shaped bread or cake'.
Thirteen years later, Husson in "Les Consommations de Paris" [1875]
includes 'croissants for coffee' in a list of 'ordinary' (as opposed to
'fine') pastry goods. Yet no trace of a recipe for croissants can be found
earlier than that given by Favre in his Dictionnaire universel de cuisine
[c. 1905], and his recipe bears no resemblance to the modern puff pastry
concoction; it is rather an oriental pastry made of pounded almonds and
sugar. Only in 1906, in Colombie's Nouvelle Encyclopedie culinaire, did a
true croissant, and its development into a national symbol of France, is a
20th-century history."
---Oxford Companion to Food (p. 228) 


On Fri, 14 Nov 2008 11:22:04 -0300,  wrote:
> Susanne Mayer wrote:
>> in the Habsburgian empire as food 
>> traditions from all over the empire where transported to Vienna and the 
>> border lands where influenced by their neighbours.
> Who invented the croissant, the Viennese or the Turks? What is the true 
> history?
> Suey
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