Today, and every April 26th, the nation celebrates the absolute best on-the-go snack, the soft pretzel. This twisted treat is sold on practically every street corner of Manhattan, Philadelphia, and Chicago, is seen by many as the greatest food ever invented while drinking, and really, who goes to a baseball game and doesn’t buy a pretzel? Whether you enjoy savory or sweet, salty or buttery, stuffed with meats, cheeses, or vegetables there’s a pretzel with your name on it.
The origins of the pretzel aren’t necessarily clear but the general consensus is that the pretzel is centuries old with different variations and names throughout Europe. The first bakers of the pretzel were most likely Christian monks around 610 AD due to the theory that the pretzel resembles hands folded in prayer. Another theory of the pretzel’s origin is based on the bread being similar in design and shape of the pre-Christian symbol, the sun cross. Most commonly, the pretzel has become widely associated with Germany’s Bavaria region and Oktoberfest celebrations where visitors enjoy pretzels as large as their heads along with their beer steins full of fine Bavarian brew. In Bavaria, located in southern Germany, the brezel has long been associated with German bakers and were incorporated into the crest of baking guilds as early as the twelfth century.
Heather Bortnem, a noteworthy baker in New York City, is known for her famous mouthwatering pretzels, specialty breads and sweet pastries. You can find her products at SmorgasBrewery, a Sunday event that takes place inside Brooklyn Brewery's tasting room. So pair her delectable little treats with a pint and get your Sunday afternoon going. Also for sale, a variety of tartines, salad bread bowls, and other pastries. Her stand is located right next to Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and what better way to start off your day then with one of Bortnem's freshly baked-to-perfection scones and a delicious cup of joe.
Oh, Germany…the country that takes credit for institutionalizing what could be termed “World-Wide Beer-Guzzling Month.” Brining together Germans and non-Germans alike, Oktoberfest is the time to indulge in grilled brats, warm pretzels, and endless streams of beer no matter where you live – unless you live in the worst place ever. Fortunately, DC embraces the gluttony with open arms, mouths, and the occasional lederhosen. While the official Oktoberfest has since wrapped up and moved on, starting this weekend DC will continue to feast on Munich’s leftovers and half-empty beer steins. Even better, some local restaurants provide us with a slice of Germany all year long. And we can’t thank them enough.