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snopes
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Comment: I have read several varying explanations of the origin of the
croissant and whether it indeed is commemorative of the siege of Vienna by
the Turks. Does the croissant owe its crescent shape to Islam?

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Bonnie
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Note that the same sort of story is told about the pretzel.

Bonnie "yeast is yeast and west is west" Taylor

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Kathy B
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Food Timeline is a good source for these sorts of questions. Croissants. They quote a number of sources and conclude "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. "

OChef says about The True History of the Croissant
quote:
The sad thing is, the truth in this case is not nearly as interesting as the myth. No one knows when or where the first croissant was baked, but it was definitely in France and certainly not before 1850. The word was first used in a dictionary in 1863. The first croissant recipe was published in 1891, but it wasn't the same kind of croissant we are familiar with today. The first recipe that would produce what we consider to be a croissant wasn't published until 1905, and, again, it was in France.
ETA, a terrific quote from rec.food.historic that certainly applies to ULs in general, not just food
quote:
Alas, it is virtually impossible to prove a negative. That is the advantage of culinary fakelore. People make up stories (for many reasons) and publish them.
If they are good stories, they are republished, and they are usually embellished along the way. It is virtually impossible to disprove them. Culinary history is, unfortunately, loaded with culinary fakelore. The croissant story has all the characteristics of fakelore. Gottschalk [who wrote about the croissant for the first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique (1938] makes a claim more than two centuries after the event supposedly takes place and offers no evidence for it. Until primary source evidence is found, the story should be classified as fakelore.

It is the responsibility of those who offer storeis [sic]-- and all those who publish them-- to support them with evidence. It is not the responsibility of those who question the stories to disprove them. Davidson's [Oxford Companion to
Food, 1999] approach is right-- he reports what the evidence he has. If others come up with better evidence, fine. That's the only way culinary history will thrive.



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beaver_slayer
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Actually, what might have been meant is Kipferl, a similar Austrian thing.

Here's the way "history" goes:

Source

quote:
The Turkish invasion of Vienna in 1683 brought coffee beans to the city.
Georg Franz Kolschitzky snuck through the Turkish lines and asked Polish King
Sobiesky for help. Sobieskys army defeated the Turks after their two month
siege on Vienna. Legend goes that because of his heroic actions,
Kolschitzky was given any award he desired. He chose the sacks of coffee
beans left behind by the Turks when they fled. During his trips to Turkey,
hed been introduced to coffee and knew its value. He opened the Blue
Bottle, the first coffeehouse in central Europe. Kolschitzky also invented
the kipferl, a roll resembling the Turkish emblem; munching on one
supposedly gives you the vicarious pleasure of devouring a Turk and of
Christianity's triumph over Islam.

Romantic as Kolschitzkys story may be, there is no proof of it ever
happening. In 1980 a Viennese historian by the name of Karl Teply
de-credited this popular legend. Teply found a document signed on January
12, 1685 giving the Armenian merchant Johannas Diotato an exclusive
hoffreiheit or monopoly on the brewing and serving of coffee and permission
to open the first coffeehouse in Vienna. While Teply believed that
Kolschitzky did go for help during the war, he was never a part of the coffee
trade, nor did he open the Blie Bottle, which was really not opened until
nine years after his death. It was Diotato who introduced coffee and
coffeehouses to Vienna.

Now that I think of it, it is quite hard to really tell whether kipferl was indeed dedicated to the defeat of Ottoman army or not. Crescent-shaped pastries are not something Vienna-specific. However, even as the "baker" part looks bogus, it's not completely impossible that some association exists. We definitely need some German speakers here.
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Floater
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quote:
Originally posted by beaver_slayer:
Crescent-shaped pastries are not something Vienna-specific.

However, Danish pastry, AKA Kopenhagener in German, which is baked from more or less the same dough goes by the name of Wienerbröd, Viennese bread, in Scandinavian. The thick plottens.

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pilchik
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quote:
Originally posted by beaver_slayer:
Actually, what might have been meant is Kipferl, a similar Austrian thing.

... or we could start with the Hungarian kifli where legends claim it was made to recognize victory over the Ottoman Turks and was the progenitor of the croissant. [Big Grin]

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beaver_slayer
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Jewish Rugelachs also claim to be involved in the story:

http://www.post-gazette.com/food/20000817mailbox.asp

The plots thickens: this page (and more Polish pages) claim that Jewish rugelachs originated from Slavik (probably Polish or Ukrainian) "rogals", or "rogaliks", which literaly means "horned [breads]". It is unclear how those related to the German horned breads, since pretty much the two share the translation of the same name (either Slavik to German or the other way round), and I'm not an expert on Germany, so let's focus on Poles:

http://www.forward.com/issues/2001/01.04.27/fast1.html

OK, now we have Poles. Here's an example:

http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogal

The thing is that bread is involved at least in some religious celebrations in Poznan, namely St. Martin's day on November 11th:

http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogale_Marcińskie

To my knowledge, crescent is an integral part of Ukrainian Christmas kolyada tradition, which is often regarded to be carried over from the Winter Solstice Festival of pagans. Note that St. Martin's day is quite close, so I won't be surprised that moon shaped breads would somehow be related. At least, there are just too many "crescent" cookies in the region, that have been there long enough so that they made their way into traditional Jewish cuisine with Jews actually borrowing the Slavic name. As an additional proof of the fact is that the word "rogal'" was included into the famous "Explanatory Dictionary of the Live Great Russian language" by Vladamir Dal' published in 1868. Given a sedatary nature of the Russia of that time and the fact that the word is claimed to be recorded near Perm' (which still is quite an isolated region with strong pagan tradition)I find it highly doubtful that the pastry could have spread through the entire region and gained several distinct names over the course of mere 50 years.

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bruce in france
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While we're on the subject, how do you pronounce "croissant"? I'm not asking how it SHOULD be pronounced [roughly k(hr)wah-SAW(N) where the hr represents a gargled R and the final N is silent but nasal], but how does the average non-French speaker say it?

No, I'm asking because after moving here, I returned to my passport country (the US of A) for a visit, walked into the snack bar of (IIRC) Borders Books, and tried to order one. I can't remember how many different ways I tried to pronounce it before the counter person finally understood me...

-bruce in frONce

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SchmooPie
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quote:
Originally posted by bruce in france:
While we're on the subject, how do you pronounce "croissant"?
-bruce in frONce

The way I've heard it pronounced by every American speaker is krusawnt, with a short 'u'.
Of course, you probably wouldn't have to look very hard to find someone that tries to pronounce it phonetically (i.e., kroysant)

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Ganzfeld
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In Japan, they're called kurowassan.
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Nick Theodorakis
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quote:
Originally posted by Ganzfeld:
In Japan, they're called kurowassan.

Isn't that what it's called when Yojimbo orders one?

Nick

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Richard W
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In England people would generally at least try to pronounce it the French way. It's normally something like "Kwassaun".
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Lainie
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
In England people would generally at least try to pronounce it the French way. It's normally something like "Kwassaun".

That's how I say it. In Ohio, I hear a mix of that and the "kruhsawnt" pronounciation SchmooPie describes, but probably more of the latter. I think it depends on whether the person ever took French in school.

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Dieter Meyer
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I've only heard it pronounced the French way here, only with a rolling r. Well, except for people who speak a dialect with an uvular r, of course.

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Die Capacitrix
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Here it's pronounced "Gipfel" or "Gipfeli".
quote:
Im deutschsprachigen Teil der Schweiz ist der Ausdruck Gipfel oder Gipfeli für das Croissant-Gebäck sehr gebräuchlich


(In the German speaking part of Switzerland the expression Gipfel or Gipfeli is very commonly used for the Croissant.)

They vary, depending on the bakery. Here are some pictures - chocolate ones are yummy.

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Billy Biggles
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Down in Saint Etienne and Lyons, they say something that sounds like cosson, people next door to you are vozzon, and things that flap and fly are ozzo. Actually more like zozzo, because it's unmanly to pronounce the le in les. On the other hand, or sir low tremmen as they say, the big river that flows through the countryside is the lewairrr, and if it ever turned black it would be le lewairr nwairr. As French accents go it's pretty much indistinguishable from Scouse. Tu marcheras jamais seul.

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RubyMoon
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As far as pronouning, up until the 1980's it was pronounced 'cressent roll'. After the people decided Croissant was classier, but no one had a clue how to say it french -- so around here its Cress-Aunt.
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beaver_slayer
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Die Capacitrix

Man, those are definitely rugelachs!

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bruce in france
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quote:
Originally posted by RubyMoon:
As far as pronouning, up until the 1980's it was pronounced 'cressent roll'. After the people decided Croissant was classier, but no one had a clue how to say it french -- so around here its Cress-Aunt.

Oooh, that could have created quite a dilemma for folks of a certain political orientation: whether to use a French word or its perfectly acceptable English translation (crescent) that just happens to be the symbol of a certain religion... "Freedom buns", anyone?
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Jaime Vargas Sanchez
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Here we pronounce it "trying to pronounce it in French". It comes as krwa-SAN, and indeed the Dictionary of the Real Academia now offers as a regularized spelling "cruasán".

On the East coast lots of people mispronounce ir as "Koo-ra-SAN"

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