Pretzels, Lords and Ladies
Lady is an ancient word of Old England. It comes from hlaefdige, which meant, literally, “bread kneader”. Hlaf meaning bread, is where we get the word loaf.
With this in mind, the Lady-of-the-House decided to exercise her ladyship. Snow was on the roof and all around. It blocked the front door. Indoors computers hummed.
But in one corner of the house dough was rising in a little blue bowl. It rose twice.
Then the Lady-of-the-House made her announcement. “It’s time to make the pretzels,” she said in her nicest voice, wishing to make it a family affair. Therefore, she put together a little speech to rally the help of the Man-of-the-House and son. “In this computer age it is good to do something three dimensional,” she reasoned. Her men folk agreed at last. The cameraman even rolled and twisted his piece of dough into a pretzel - in between shots.
Both lords and ladies are words (or titles) connected with bread. Lord comes from two Old English words, hlaf, bread, and weard, which became ward or guardian. A hlafweard was a loaf-ward or “one who guards the bread.”
Using her regular wholegrain dough recipe she then followed Pennsylvania Dutch directions for soft pretzels.
Once formed, several pretzels at a time are simmered in a solution of water and baking soda for two minutes.
Drained on a towel they are then placed on a buttered cookie sheet and given a sprinkle of coarse Celtic salt.
They are baked until golden brown.
Do you know the amazing story of the pretzel? While we are on the subject of word origins, pretzel comes from the Latin word pretiola, meaning small reward.
The legend tells of a young Italian monk who, it seems, was blessed with a good imagination and a heart for children. As early as the year 610 AD the monk noticed some leftover bread dough and was struck with an idea. He twisted small dough pieces into a shape that represented a child’s arms folded prayer. (Christians in that day would pray with their arms folded across their chest.) He used these biscuits as a treat or pretiola for children who learned their lessons and prayers. (It was also a way to feed the hungry.) The three empty holes in the biscuits helped teach the Holy Trinity. As pretiola gained in popularity it spread across the Alps into Germany where it became known as the pretzel.
The 19th century line-drawing at the start of the post adorns a homemade card sent by a pen-friend who is in every way a lady (and kneader of bread). Baking multiple loaves for her family each week is one of her most satisfying labors of love. It is a creative and practical way she has chosen to live out her Mother Culture.
May the ideas on this post, in some way, be uplifting to you.