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- November 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm #344732
Toruń gingerbread (Polish: Pierniki toruńskie), instantly recognizable as part of Toruń heritage, tradition and legend, is undoubtedly the city’s trademark and pride. Its peculiarity and uniqueness lies in its unusual taste, outstanding quality and sophisticated artistic form.
The first references to the gingerbread manufacturing in Toruń date from 1380 and are associated with Niclos Czan, one of Toruń bakers of the period. However, the first gingerbread cakes in Toruń were baked as early as the 13th century.
They were first made by ordinary bakers, sometimes referred to as pastry cooks, who eventually came to be termed gingerbread cooks. Similar cakes were made also by nuns in the local convents. As early as the 14th century an anonymous Latin poem was written in praise of the gingerbread, entitled "On spicy bread i.e. Toruń gingerbread". It extolled the merits of the cakes emphasizing their excellent taste, especially when tried with liquor.
The very word 'Piernik' in Polish (“gingerbread”) originates from the old Polish term describing spice known as “pierna”, added to flour and honey to make gingerbread batter. The spice arrived in Europe with the crusades, which initiated trade development between Europe and the Middle East.Toruń gingerbread historical mould: Toruń Coat of Arms
Toruń gingerbread recipes differed from baker to baker. All of them were well-guarded secrets and the recipe exchange between bakers was limited. In 1556 Toruń and Nuremberg entered into an agreement allowing the free use of Nuremberg recipes by Toruń bakers and, in return, granting the former the right to bake cakes according to Toruń recipes. In 1884 Kujot wrote: "…just as Nuremberg in the whole of Germany, so Toruń managed to secure the precedence of its own produce in Poland. Recognizing their own fame, both cities guarded their gingerbread secrets with jealousy and were well-aware of their own right to monopoly, keeping their spicing methods to themselves…".
Toruń bakers kept the recipes secret not only from Nuremberg or Königsberg “competitors” – the latter attempting to reproduce the taste of Toruń gingerbread – but from other Toruń bakers as well. Just as was the case with wines produced in the best French or Italian vineries: one needed only to try gingerbread to instantly recognize which Toruń bakery it came from, judging by its elaborate taste.
The present-day gingerbread manufacturing methods are based on the old recipes and technologies going back to the 16th-century tradition of gingerbread baking. Toruń gingerbread is made of the highest quality flour and honey, which owe their unique taste to the forests and fields located along the Vistula river, as well as the oriental spices. From time immemorial beautiful, old Hanseatic Toruń was located at the intersection of the most important European trade routes, which facilitated importing spices determining the excellent gingerbread taste from the Middle East. These included ginger, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, etc., which explains why the superbly tasting gingerbread was born precisely here.
The development of Toruń gingerbread manufacturing reached its apogee in the 17th and 18th centuries, since when Toruń has begun to be largely recognized for its gingerbread within Europe. Because of their durability, the cakes accompanied merchants on long-distance trips, even war expeditions; no significant visitor was allowed out of the city without them. The gingerbread served also medical purposes, yet most commonly it was used as an after-dinner snack or it accompanied wines, meads or vodka.
Just like any other commodity, Toruń gingerbread had and continues to have competitors. However, it far surpasses the competition with its beautiful forms. Woodcarvers and bakers laid much significance on gingerbread appearance and developed gingerbread making into a new form of art. They baked the cakes in different shapes and sizes in ornamental wooden or clay baking trays, which in themselves were considered beautiful and were frequently used as gifts. They were real works of art, made with great precision and rich in details. The bakers did not limit themselves to simple shapes and patterns, but strived to produce some more sophisticated forms.
The most common gingerbread motifs included Kings and Queens of Poland, angels, Mother and Child, the manger, St. George fighting with a dragon, soldiers of the Swedish war period, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a variety of genre scenes, animals, or the famous ornamental horse-drawn carriage. The artistry of the wooden baking tray making is particularly outstanding. Today they constitute woodcarving masterpieces, available for viewing on permanent exhibition of Toruń craft in the Old City Town Hall. The art of gingerbread tray making began to disappear in the 19th century with the development of technology. The oldest surviving forms date from the early 17th century. Before World War II, there were over 700 such forms, yet their number dwindled to half during war.[img width=250 height=700]http://www.visittorun.pl/upload/image/piernikBABKOg.gif”/>
The point of baking gingerbread was additionally to honour important people. Polish King Ladislas IV Vasa is remembered for a gingerbread medallion. Its surviving form suggests it was 24 cm in diameter and its main elements included a crown and the White Eagle with Vasa coat of arms held by two angels. Pope John Paul II was presented by Toruń Gingerbread Bakers delegation with an occasional cake shaped like the Heliocentric System as visualized on Nicolaus Copernicus’ work "De Revolutionibus, etc."
However, the most recognizable and typical gingerbread shape is the simple “Catherine” (Polish: "katarzynka"), made by joining six circles (medallions) together. Today it is mass produced on the assembly line in chocolate coating or plain. History remains silent as to who devised the cake of this shape and where the name derives from. There are, however, several beautiful legends explaining the origins of the “Catherine” cake. One of them has it that the author of the peculiar gingerbread shape and name was a young and modest apprentice who was in love with beautiful Catherine – his master’s daughter. Intent on winning her heart, he designed the cake to make an impression on Catherine and her father.
A well-known 17th century Polish saying lists Gdańsk vodka, Toruń gingerbread, Krakow maiden and Warsaw ankle boot among the best Polish things of that time. The city earned the distinction due to the hard work and artistry of gingerbread bakers, their fame spreading far abroad.
The city authorities were well aware of the advantages of baking gingerbread and thus they granted the bakers numerous privileges such as, for example, excise tax exemption for spices or no export tax on gingerbread. They took a good care of marketing the cakes and maintaining the city’s good reputation, sending gingerbread to all those whose favours they sought. By way of illustration, gingerbread cakes and a bottle of cinnamon vodka, believed to have “mood-enhancing properties”, were sent to the Vatican with Bishop Henryk Firlej as a gift from Benedictine abbess.[img width=250 height=700]http://www.visittorun.pl/upload/image/piernikRYCERZg.gif”/>
Gingerbread also helped to bribe Swedish dignitaries into accelerating debt repayment by the Swedish for all unpaid commodities labour and damage Toruń suffered under Swedish occupation in 1658.
In 1663, in a letter sent to Toruń, Jan Graf expressed his regret for not being able to take Hungarian wine and Toruń gingerbread to enforce due payment from the Swedish, as restricted by the Peace Treaty of Oliwa.
In 1696 the city offered the cakes to Swedish Count Gyllenberg to negotiate lenient debt repayment terms in favour of the city.
Well-known in history is Toruń’s gift to Tsarina Catherina in 1778, which took the form of an approximately 2-metre-long and about 30-cm thick gingerbread cake. The gift, worth 300 rix-dollars, was decorated with Toruń coat of arms on top and framed by a two-headed Russian eagle and two one-headed eagles.
After the city passed under the Prussians rule in 1793, gingerbread cakes started to bear Tadeusz Kościuszko image as the manifestation of patriotism and Toruń craftsmen’s affinity for the insurrection leader.[img width=250 height=700]http://www.visittorun.pl/upload/image/piernikNICOLAIg.gif”/>
The first gingerbread factory was established by Jan Weese in 1763 at 4 Strumykowa Street. Today its heir and continuator is Confectionary Factory "Kopernik". In 1862 there were as many as 5 operating factories, including Hermann Thomas Company of 1857.
Toruń gingerbread is associated with a number of legends.
Toruń gingerbread legends
Legends associated with Toruń gingerbread – the most famous and typical Toruń product, are not as old as the very tradition of baking it. However, they come in large numbers and are vividly colourful. Above all, they well describe the source of Toruń fame. Nearly 700-year-old gingerbread tradition gave rise to a large number of mysterious tales by virtue of the unique spicy taste and fanciful gingerbread shapes. The development of the legends was at its best only in the 19th century; alongside the increase in the fairy tale writing, especially in the Grimm brothers literary activities, there appeared a more favourable atmosphere for inventing the legends.November 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm #403995
Hell Yeah! I was there and made my own gingerbread.November 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm #403996
AnonymousQuote:Hell Yeah! I was there and made my own gingerbread.
I hope it was tastyNovember 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm #403997
The legend about how the city on The Vistula River was named[img width=700 height=525]http://www.tvk.torun.pl/ecards_files/Torun-4.jpg” />
Long, long time ago, somewhere in meanders of the Vistula river, raised a town. To feel safe, inhabitants surrounded it by high walls and reinforced by defensive towers. But one of the towers was very curious about the world. That is why it made friends with the Vistula river and learned a lot from her.
And the Vistula knew a lot, and heard a lot, too. She was flowing from Barania Gora, through Krakow, and Mazovian Land, so all pieces of gossips and news she was telling the tower then.
After a few years being friends, the tower became jealous and didn't want to listen Vistula's stories any more. But the river still boasting of her experiences, and to made tower listen, started undermine her foundations.
The tower couldn't stand constant coming waves, so she asked the river:
– Please, Vistula, don't make it, I will fall down!
– So, fall down! – answered Vistula (in Polish: 'to ruń').
During that time, two wayfarers were coming to town. From afar they saw high walls and one of them asked:
– I wonder how is that city called?
And then, they heard how Vistula was answering the Tower: "To ruń!" (so fall down!). And that was the name which they wrote on maps, that they had.
This is how the name of that beautiful town was born, thanks to the Vistula river and curious tower.[img width=700 height=440]http://www.torun.webd.pl/galeria/panorama5.jpg” />
[img width=700 height=468]http://student.if.pw.edu.pl/~miclep/Images/torun.jpg” />
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 11:42 am #403998
The Legend about the Catherine
Torun is widely known of it's best ginger bread. But even the oldest men in Torun doesn't remember who first started to mix rye flour and honey with spices. What we know for sure, is that in town lived lots of masters of baking ginger bread. But there was one, that did it especial good. He was the one that baked best ginger bread with various shapes and additionally was very modest and good man. He had one, beautiful daughter – Catherine which he loved very much. She was helping him with work in bakery.[img width=700 height=700]http://partytrend.s3.amazonaws.com/catalog/product/cache/11/image/b8a7d41b39f9fc74ee05a67602311f2f/8/7/87455.d.jpg” />
One day Catherine's father felt ill. From that time, nobody was baking and poverty started to bother them. Then, the father asked his daughter to try to bake ginger bread on her own. Catherine agreed and started to prepare everything what is needed for baking. She only couldn't find a pan, made by her father. Because she wasn't able to make new ones, she take a tin cup and started to make circles from paste and put them into an oven. When they were ready, she put them out. But they weren't the same as baked by her father, they sticked together. Catherine was sad, thinking that nobody would buy such strange ginger bread. Unnecessary. They tasted even better than once beaked by her father, and people liked their shape, so the next day she sold them all.
After this, people were wondering what was the secret of such good ginger bread. Old huckstress said that except all what is needed to bake ginger bread, Catherine added her hart and love for her ill father. People liked that and from now on, started to name six circles sticked together Cathrines. And so is nowadays, walking around Old City you can taste ginger bread named Catherines (Katarzynki).
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 11:58 am #403999
The Legend about a ginger bread and Lithuanian women
Long, long time ago, Prince Konrad I of Masovia donated the Chelmno Land to Teutonic Knights. They wanted to conquer lands around to christianize them. Finally, they conquered even lands, where now Lithuania is.
Being there Knights took Lithuanian women prisoner and bring them to Toruń. Here, women received christening and become members of a Christian Church. After that, Commander of the Teutonic Knights ordered to build a nunnery where women will be able to live, under the rule of St. Benedict.
So, women named as "black monks" were living there, comfortable and happy under the Knights' protection. In token of appreciation, they were preparing once a month a festive dinner.
Once, during such a dinner, on the table appeared a delicious cake, that nobody see or eat before. It was prepared by one Benedictines, Sister Catherine. She made it, by mixing flour and honey with spices. She also made them in different shapes, but one of them was special and remembered. It was 6 circles sticked together. Everyone liked these new cakes, but they had no name. That is why, the Commander of Order suggested to name this gingerbread Catherines. And from that evening, they were known as Catherines, to memorable the monk that made them first.
As time went on, Knights were forgetting about Benedictines. Monks on their own had to keep themselves. And then monks reminded about cakes named Catherines. So they decided to bake them and sell to earn money. It was very good idea, because all citizens were buying them. What's more, they were so delicious, that merchants bought them and sell abroad. And that was the story about famous gingerbread that monk Catherine from Toruń made in the past.
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm #404000
Mmm…Another tasty topic from Prelja!November 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm #404001
AnonymousQuote:Mmm…Another tasty topic from Prelja!
Haha, thanksNovember 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm #404002
The Legend of The Raftsman's Statuette
The characteristic feature of Toruń's Old Town Square is bronze Raftsman's Fountain. It is dated from 1914 and presents the Raftsman playing the violin, surrounded by frogs engrossed in his music.
The story begins with a big flood in town. After the water subsided, frogs appeared. They were everywhere, on the streets, at homes, even in dignified halls of the Town Hall. They felt citizens and guests with disgust. For this situation people blamed councilors and overseer, suggesting new elections. That was too much, that's why overseer asked all citizens to fight with frogs in every possible way.
Unfortunately their efforts run to waste. Having no choice, overseer announced that he will give a hand of his daughter in marriage as a reward of freeing the city from frogs.
Lots of brave young men wanted to set free people from frogs and marry beautiful overseer's daughter. Than a poor raftsman appeared. He went out on the Town Square playing his violin. Frogs, engrossed in his music, came out from their hiding-places and were assembling around the raftsman. He started to walk slowly to Mokre Suburbs where marshes were. There frogs dispersed, and never came back again.[img width=700 height=525]http://krodo.pl/upload/places/I093-f8ca045.JPG” />
Happy raftsman then married overseers daughter, in which he has been in love for years. Overseer wasn't content to have such son-in-law, but he had to keep his promise. Soon a revelry weeding took place after which both, raftsman and his wife were living long in health and happiness. Overseer became a grandpa of seven granddaughters and seven grandsons. And so they lived happily ever after.
Today, only beautiful story remained, and The Raftsman's Fountain on the Toruń's Old Town Square. Sometimes children come to the fountain to wet hands in cool water. And sometimes adults come to the Raftsman, too, to leave him a penny, so that they could come back to Toruń in the future again.[img width=700 height=525]http://polandforkids.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/aaaa.jpg” />
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm #404003
The Legend about the cat, that helped to save the city
In times of old, when granaries were full of crops, in the city appeared mice. Inhabitants in every possible way tried to quit of the trouble. Without result. The mayor then ordered, to get all cats from neighborhood into the town to save the city.
And so it happened. During the night all cats were catching troublesome rodents. All, but one. There was one cat, that instead of catching mice, was walking around, and fawning on city guards. They liked that friendly cat, and from time to time thy gave him something to eat.
And so days were passing away, until the February, 16th, 1629 come. That day Swedes come up, wanted to conquer the city. Inhabitants were fighting bravely to hold the city, but it was not easy to struggle with so strong army. And then, our lazy cat joined the battle. Much to everyone surprise, he put up a good fight. Thanks to his sacrifice, the city was saved.
People, as a reward, named city towers in honour of the bravely cat. And so in Toruń we had Cat's Tail Tower, Cat's Head Tower, and Cat's Paws Tower.
But today only Cat's Head Tower remained, bringing back memories about bravely cat, that helped to save the city.
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm #404004
The Legend about the cook named Jordan
[img width=700 height=525]http://www.polskiekrajobrazy.pl/images/stories/big/92258DSC.JPG” />Teutonic Castle, Toruń
It was January, 1454, Teutonic Knights were celebrating an arrival of a very important guest at the Castle. Nothing promised that something is going to happen. But it was, however, Knights were too busy to see that they are in danger. That was so, because citizens were dissatisfied with their despotic rules and planed to destroy the Castle.[img width=700 height=467]http://www.blog.tarantoga.pl/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/2011_04_09_inscenizacja_zamkowa_2011_1/IMG_5145.jpg” />
The plan was to take over the Castle by surprise, and was supposed to happen that night, when having fun Knights wasn't be able to defend.
There was a cook, working at the Castle, named Jordan. He offered that he will help citizens to conquer the Castle by giving a sign, when Knights will be drunk and sleepy. According to the plan, that evening citizens started to assemble at the gates. Jordan, standing on the tower was waiting to gave the signal in due course time. When Knights were drunk and sleepy enough, Jordan gave the signal. Everything started.
Jordan, being very curious about fights, stayed on the tower. Unfortunately, citizens the first thing to do after getting into the Castle, wanted to blow up towers. Didn't know that Jordan is still on one of them, quickly put under explosive charge and set on fire. Jordan couldn't came down before explosion, so with loud bang blew up in the air and soared until landed on the Chelminska Gate. Pale, stayed there till fights ended.
The next day, among applause and happiness, citizens took off their hero from the Chelminska Gate. Wanted to express their approval, citizens decided to hang up a picture of Jordan with his big spoon on the Gate.
That picture was there for many years, reminding of the brave cook. Nowadays, if you only want to, you can see Jordan with his spoon in the museum in the City Hall at the Old Town.
Chełmińska Gate, Toruń
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 1:18 pm #404005
The legend about a Teutonic Knight's sin
Once in Toruń lived 12 Teutonic Knights. There was one, among them, especially handsome. Walking around the city, he met very beautiful woman and felt in love with her from the firs look. He forgot that he was not only knight but also a monk.
He was meeting with beautiful lady, hiding in back streets of the Old Town. One day somebody saw them and news spread over the city, even to a City Council and Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. It was long discussed what to do with lovers and which of them is guilty. Finally the discussions come to an and lovers both were found guilty.[img width=700 height=466]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-xIXBDs4xB0I/UIej9ze2S-I/AAAAAAAADkc/quoPUBS89fY/s1600/mnich3.jpg” />
The court in Torun sentenced the woman to 25 whips by the Saint Jacob's Gate in The New Town and the Knight was sentenced by Grand Master to build a defensive tower, leaned from the vertical as his crooked life. So, the Knight built a tower, leaned to the north 1,4 meters. The tower is standing until today, reminding of the Knight – monk's vice.[img width=459 height=700]http://mojtorun.blox.pl/resource/wieza1.jpg” />
Leaning Tower, Toruń
That is why, The Leaning Tower is a symbol of a sin. But it is also the place, where you can check or prove your innocent. To do it, you have to stand very close, back to the tower, with heels touching bricks and stretching arms in front of you. When you will be able to stand like this for a while, you are very good man and your conscience is clear[img width=525 height=700]http://cdn.geolocation.ws/geolocation_media/flickr2/0615/l-006157364104.jpg” />
[url=http://www.monika_rozycka.republika.pl/uktorun.html]Source[/url]November 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm #404006
The legend about the Toruń's Town Hall
In 1466, after the Thirteen Years' War had finished, the Chelminska Land and Toruń with it, returned to Kingdom of Poland. From that time, years of peace and prosperity began. Major of Toruń, Henryk Stroband, after meeting with City Council, decided to build up the most important building in the city – the Old Town City Hall. It was the place were the most important events took place: meeting of the City Council, all festivities and also that was the place, were merchants had their shops.
Antoni von Obberghen, a Flemish architect, was offered to make the reconstruction. He agreed and was very happy, although this work wasn't easy. He was supposed to make from the City Hall the most exceptional and astonishing building.
Mr Obberghen set to work and rebuild the City Hall so that it was possible to find a calendar in it: there was one tower as one year, four smaller towers as 4 seasons, 12 larger rooms as 12 months, and 52 smaller as 52 weeks during a year. Whole building had 365 windows, as days during a year. During the leap year, a bricklayer was hiring, to built a room, as a symbol of the 29th of January. When such year was ending, the room was walled up.
From that times, the City Hall was rebuilding very many times, and it is hard to find nowadays this calendar, made by Master Antoni. There is still one big tower, four smaller but if there is so many windows as days during a year, it is hard to say. Maybe, when visiting City Hall you will count by yourself.
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