A legend from 1011 nights

 

Marzipan- the confectionery of the harem

 

It was a time of changes and challenges, of trade and transformation. The world was in the move: Islam was spreading, the papacy was becoming powerful. And it was the time from Mohammed to Charlemagne. The eighth century changed the world. And with this change a sweet delicacy reached the western world from the Orient: marzipan.  

 

But it was only many, many years later that marzipan received the honour it deserved in the hanseatic city of Lübeck. Just how marzipan became so famous remains a mystery, with many details missing... it could have come about in or around 1407, as famine broke out in Lübeck. There was very little wheat, and therefore bread was scarce. For this reason the senate called on all Lübeck bakers to make bread from almonds, sugar and water! Necessity produced a delicacy and a passion: marzipan. It certainly tasted delicious, the "marci panis", the bread from Venice. At that time it was a reference to the good trade relationship between Lübeck and the city of gondolas. Or did the name originate in Byzantium, the old city on the Bosporus? Mauthaban is the name of the Byzantine coin with which all kinds of goods were paid for: a derivation of Marzapane, our present-day marzipan, perhaps? So many questions, which nobody can answer with certainty. The question of the precise recipe is equally unanswered. The manner in which the Lübeck marzipan companies manufacture their sweet delicacy is still a secret today.

 

Thomas Mann also succumbed to the attractions and the taste of marzipan, which once served as a confection for harems. In 1926 he described the delicacy in "Lübeck als geistige Lebensform" ("Lübeck as a way of life and thought") as follows: "And if one looks closely at this confection, this mixture of almonds and rose water and sugar, one cannot but suppose that the Orient is somehow involved, that one has a harem confectionery at hand and that the recipe for this opulent burden on one's stomach probably came from Venice to Lübeck." 

 

Apothecaries and monks, doctors and nuns - they all value the healing power: Marzipan strengthens the heart, builds up muscles and improves wellbeing, at least that is what the medical world claims. Marzipan is and remains a true healer - from a sense of passion.
An expensive luxury? In earlier years yes, until the discovery of the sugar beet in the 18th century. That proved to be a breakthrough for marzipan and Lübeck, this time for everyone. Marzipan suddenly became affordable. The nearby beet plantations around Lübeck and the geographical position as a harbour city made Lübeck into Germany's marzipan city. That has remained the case to this day. Lübeck Marzipan is a protected geographical indication (PGI) according to EU law. The quality requirements of Lübeck Marzipan are set higher than those of conventional marzipan and are regulated by the RAL German Institute for Quality Assurance and Classification. And Lubeca is proud that the company is located in Stockelsdorf/Lübeck, right in the centre of marzipan; for over 1,000 years.