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Marzipan

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Marzipan

The origin of this tasteful and delightful paste, generally obtained from the blend of sugar and almonds, is lost in the mists of time. At the Court of the roman emperor Vario Avito Bassiano, known as Eliogabalo (218-222), was prepared a paste made of almonds, figs, honey and sweet juices.It is almost certainly possible to locate the origin of marzipan in the eastern Mediterranean area; the first descriptions of such a sweet paste and of its ingredients - ground almonds, raw sugar or honey, egg white - bring us in Sicily during the Arabian domination, before year One Thousand.



The arabian influence was important for arts, science and economy and moreover for the import and use of new raw materials in food cooking: raw cane sugar, sesame, essences and spices such as cynnamom, pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, saffron, all came from Middle East and spread all over Europe with the returning back home of those who partecipated in the first Crusades. In the same age some silver coins were circulating and it seems that their value matched the same amount of a sweet paste made of almonds, sugar or honey and rose water, packed in a wooden box and named "ma-wthabàn".

From Middle East to Sicily and then to european continent, marzipan spread as one of the most appreciated and refined sweet pastes for Court kitchens. In the Middle Ages was also know in Florence, and during '300s could only be sold by the "Speciarii" Corporation - apothecarys of that age, in Venice since 1150 and then in France and Germany, around '400s; in Lubeck, at Christmas Time, was a habit to present the most loyal servants with a roll of marzipan with coins stuck in it, one for every year of duty. Marzipan is widely employed during important wedding banquets in '400s-'500s, to show the Courts confectionery makers ability. In the Middle Ages again, when mixing sweet and salted cooking is a normal habit, making marzipan is suggested with the use of spices.


Employing such precious (for the age) raw materials, almonds, sugar and spices, made eating marzipan possible only to those who could afford it, the rich or those having the possibilities to buy luxury sweets. Nowadays sugar and almonds do not anymore cost as one thousand years ago, but marzipan value is still in the skilful balance of ingredients capable to obtain a tender paste, not cloying and allowing storage without employing food preservatives.


Our substantial experience of nearly one century in making this paste has been strengthened with scientific studies: a first period of nearly 10 years, lead with support of Food Technicians and part of which is a subject in a graduation thesis at Food Science and Technologies University in Milan, year 1992, after which is still following a steady check practice and developing of the product.

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