Day 3: The Great Supper & Thirteen Desserts of Provence

In case you hadn’t noticed, France is a diverse world of culinary traditions and glamorously thin people.

I want to be them.

Ok, maybe not everyone is glamorously thin, but the part about the food is true. It’s the birthplace of haute cuisine and constant inspiration to chefs (and amateurs) everywhere. So it’s no surprise that the region of Provence has it’s own special Christmas tradition. It’s called Le Gros Souper et Les Treizes Dessert de Noêl, or (for those of us who don’t speak French, like me) The Great Supper and the Thirteen Desserts.

Thirteen Desserts.

This double tradition originated in Marseille at the beginning of the 19th century. Both the supper and desserts are rife with religious symbolism that have to do with both the number of dishes served as well as the types of foods and decorations.

This painting seems to be one of a more boisterous Great Supper. Le Gros Souper, School of Lancert.

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Day 1: Laufabrauð

Laufabrauð, or “Leaf Bread,” are thin cakes fried in oil or mutton fat. They have intricate designs carved into them using special tools or a pocketknife. The designs tend to look like little leaves, hence “leaf bread.”

Laufabrauð is an Icelandic Christmas tradition that originated in the north of the country. The bread possibly has a much older origin, but references to it in written sources appear around 1736 as the Icelanders “candy.” It’s often called “snowflake bread” in English because of the cut-through patterns.

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Harry Potter and the Treacle Tart: Part III

Welcome to Part III of Harry Potter and the Treacle Tart. This is going to focus mainly on golden syrup, the light treacle that I’ve mentioned a couple times but still haven’t explained to you. The thing about golden syrup is, its history is inseparable from Lyle’s Golden Syrup so this is the story of both.

Also, at the end I’ll be revealing a secret that will literally knock your socks off. Seriously, you’ll be like “I HAD NO IDEA!” and weep that you were fortunate to gain such important knowledge.

THIS KNOWLEDGE MADE MY HEAD EXPLODE

Anywho.

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Harry Potter and the Treacle Tart: Part II

The story of the treacle tart is not as simple as it seems. Not only does treacle’s history go back to the beginnings of western civilization, but there are different types. It’s not as simple as “treacle.” There’s black treacle, medium brown treacle, and light treacle, also known as golden syrup.

The term “treacle” is used mainly to describe the black or brown forms of the syrup. However, it seems that the term is used loosely to describe several different kinds of sugar syrups, including golden. My mum insists that this isn’t so and, since she’s all British and stuff and would know first hand, I’m inclined to believe her. But what I really think is that there isn’t any sort of consensus on when which syrup is called what and why.

Like I'd pass up a chance to feature a picture of confused pugs...

Further, the name confusion makes it unclear about which treacle Mr. Weasley is pouring onto his porridge. Is it golden syrup or the black/brown treacle? It might be the traditional black treacle because the wizarding world, while advanced in so many ways, is also rooted firmly in older traditions. Golden syrup has only been around since the 1880’s and…well now I’m babbling.

"You are babbling, please stop."

The only real way to know is by asking J.K. Rowling herself. Could you imagine her opening a letter that said “Hey, JK, I was just wondering, what type of treacle is Mr. Weasley putting on his porridge? Yours truly, Esther.”

Yeah, right.

LOL you guys, I just got this letter from some girl named Esther about the type of treacle Mr. Weasley eats. This girl obviously has no life lololol.

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Harry Potter and the Treacle Tart: Part I

Recently, I began re-listening to the Harry Potter series on audiobook. This isn’t anything new for me. I spent an entire summer listening to all seven books on repeat. It’s relaxing. Don’t judge me.

The movie has come and gone, but just looking at this sends me into fits of giggles.

I love the magic and fantasy. I love that even the names of the characters have a history (“Sirius” is a dog constellation and “Remus” was one of Rome’s founders who was suckled by a she-wolf). But what I love the most about the series are descriptions of the food. The idea of anyone being fed such succulent dishes in a British boarding school, after hearing about my mom’s own British boarding school food experiences, is magically in and of itself.

Yea, so this is a complete lie.

So yea, I love Harry Potter. But let’s get to the point.

Treacle.

It's like tar in a tin!

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Quick Tidbit: Coffee Houses

This week, I worked a two day gig as an IT person (I know, the idea is laughable) for an Executive Summit. For discretion’s sake, I won’t tell you what the company was called, but I will tell you the key note speaker was excellent.

This is a nerd who looks slightly better than I did.

The speaker’s name was Steven Johnson. He’s written 7 books, the most recent of which is called Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.

Mr. Johnson was an incredibly engaging speaker, but what I found to be most striking was the way he shared his information. He did it exactly like I want to. Through stories and anecdotes, he entertained us while at the same time teaching us. If you’ve read the “Why’d I Do This?” section of the blog, you’ll understand how strong a hold that idea has on me.

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Scrapple: Its Final European History

Hey, scrapple. It’s been a while.

I consider this the end of the European history of scrapple. Soon I make my move on to the American history of scrapple. If any of this is unclear, please comment and let me know so I can fix it. I had some conflicting sources with this one. The most important thing is that you, dear reader, understand what’s going on.

I DON'T UNDERSTAND! I AM SO OVERWHELMED!

Also, quick note about citations for this particular project. In every article I post I will always cite the pictures, but I’m going to cite my sources for all the research at the end of the project.

And let’s begin.

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