Marzipan in den Deutschklassen
December 2005 - January 26, 2006

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Lübeck: Marzipan mecca

Nobel Prize-winner Thomas Mann once described the holiday market held annually in Lübeck. "And wherever one went, one takes in the aroma of the festival from fir trees offered for sale," he wrote. The market in the northern province of Schleswig-Holstein has been taking place around the city hall since 1648.
Some of the local goods sold at the market include items from wood lathe artists and the handiwork of shoemakers and leather artists - among the most traditional at the fair.
Another main fair held in the historical market hall of the Holy Ghost Hospital features the arched marketplace of the building's basement.
Here, the visitor can find many of the products sold for centuries at the fair, such as dolls, marionettes, baskets, silver and gold, iron designs, and silk and leather goods.

But the most important item to come out of Lübeck's long history as Christmas haven is marzipan - the candy made from almond and sugar that is carefully formed into delightful animals, fruits, and decorations.
Marzipan was first a product of the orient, where it was a delicacy of Arab nobility. It was brought through Venice during the crusades and developed into a dessert served at royal tables by the 14th century.
After the European discovery of the new world and the mass harvesting of sugar cane became a world-wide phenomenon, marzipan, which was usually served in bread form, became something of an art form in Europe. Later, during the Industrial Revolution, marzipan factories sprung up throughout Europe.
Today, Germany's most famous and traditional marzipan factories are found in Lübeck, such as Haus Niederegger and Carstens. Both make fantastical forms and figurines out of marzipan - if one can imagine it, they can make it.
And like the beer purity law of Bavaria, marzipan that comes from Lübeck must adhere to the strict standards enacted by the city.

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Latest update 8/11/2006

Photos by J. Brew
Created by
R. Taylor