Showing posts with label Germans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germans. Show all posts

Jan 21, 2012

What's in a Name, Pumpernickel

Pumpernickel is one of those words that rolls off the tongue and sounds almost playful. It is a a dark coarse sourdough bread made of rye flour and rye berries. The name comes from the German pumpern, meaning to break wind and Nickel meaning goblin or satan. The name stems from its reputed indigestibility and is crudely referred to as 'the devil's fart' by some dictionaries. The long cooking time is what gives it its dark color.

There are stories about the name coming from the French and Napoleon, but they have been debunked.

Pumpernickel is great and commonly found on hors d'oeuvres trays, topped with caviar, smoked Salmon, or other goodies. It is referred to as an 'upscale bread' and you can find it is upscale shops. In the US some add molasses to get the dark color without the long cooking time. It is great eaten in small doses and is also wonderful with strong cold cuts and cheeses.

Jan 6, 2012

What's in a Name, Belsnickel

German for "fur-Nicholas," is a fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of southwestern Germany, where my family is originally from. The figure is also preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.

Belsnickel's fur covers his entire body, and he sometimes wears a mask with a long tongue. He is a companion of Saint Nickolas, a bit scary, and visits children at Christmas time to deliver socks or shoes full of candy, cakes, nuts, and fruit, but if the children are not good, they will find coal and/or switches (stick) in their stockings instead. Other traditions had him strewing those goodies on the floor and if an adult bent down to pick up something they were hit on the back from Belsnickel with a switch.

In many places, Belsnickel was a precursor to Santa Claus or St. Nickolas and the popularity in the US faded in the early 1900s. Many of the old traditional Santa equivalents always had coal and a switch for bad kids along with the goodies. Alas, many good life lessons have been replaced with the current - everyone gets everything attitude.

Mar 5, 2010

Crash Blossoms

I know you have seen them. The name emerged last year as a description of those funny headlines that can be taken more than one way. Here are a few real headlines for your reading pleasure.

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
McDonald’s Fries the Holy Grail for Potato Farmers
Gator Attacks Puzzle Experts
Eighth Army Push Bottles Up Germans
Lotto Winner's Body Remains Identified
US Eyes Boom in Nuclear Reactors
Jessica Hahn Pooped After Long Day Testifying