February 28, 2007

The Baker's Passport - Iceland Lent in many countries is filled with many wide and varied cultural traditions. Historically, as well, Lent is a period of fasting. As such many countries this time is also wrapped around food celebrations just before the 40-day fasting period begins with the idea being that you are strengthening yourself for the long days ahead. Today the idea of fasting is not a common one so these food rituals have been re-envisioned over time sometimes in a more celebratory coloring. In Iceland, two days before the beginning of Lent, homes, restaurants and bakeries overflow with delicately-made cream puffs or buns. These buns, similar to a cream-filled chocolate eclair, come in all different shapes and sizes, filled with cream or jam and sometimes drizzled in melted chocolate. Children "earn" their share of buns by "beating" their parents out of bed. This is done with their made-at-school bolludagsvöndur (bun wands), that are colorfully decorated with strips of paper and shiny ribbon. Parents are then obligated to give their children one rjomabolla or cream puff for every "blow" received. It is thought that this custom is derived from acts of penance performed during Lent, evolving over time into a lighthearted children’s game. The custom of "bun day" came to Iceland from either Sweden, Denmark or Norway in the nineteenth century. These countries also have their Lenten bun specialties. In Sweden, the smela is descended from the German and Danish kumminkringlor, a pretzel-shaped bread with cumin, which came to southern Sweden during the 1600's...


what happens to the hole when the donut is gone?

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