Join millions of people across the nation on January 12 as they participate in the annual National Marzipan Day.
For anyone who does not know, Marzipan is a confection made primarily of sugar or honey and ground almonds, sometimes augmented with almond oil or extract. Although it is often made into sweets such as marzipan-filled chocolate and small imitations of fruits and vegetables, it is also commonly rolled into thin sheets and used as a glaze for icing cakes. Marzipan is also known to be shaped into small figures of animals, which in some countries is a favorite tradition on New Year’s Day.
- There are two proposed lines of origin for marzipan; they are not necessarily contradictory and may be complementary, as there have always been Mediterranean trade and cooking influences. In both cases, there is a reason to believe that there is a clear Arabic influence for historical reasons (both regions were under Muslim control). Other sources establish the origin of marzipan in China, from where the recipe moved on to the Middle East and then to Europe through Al-Andalus.
- In the Middle Ages, marzipan was sold by pharmacists. They recommended it as a medicine for treating physical and mental disorders.
- In Russia, marzipan became known from tales of Andersen, Hoffmann and Grimm brothers, where it symbolizes the children’s happiness and magic.
- The tallest marzipan sculpture is 3.59 m (11 ft 9 in) and was achieved by Junta de las Comunidades de Castilla la Mancha, Santo Tome Obrador, Asociacion de Fabricantes de Turrones y Mazapanes de la Provincia de Toledo and Stil Kommunikation (all Spain) in Toledo, Spain, on 23 April 2016. The sculpture represents the statue of Miguel de Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote de la Mancha’.
- The Persian physician Rhazes, who lived from 850 to 923, wrote a book extolling the almond and sugar mixture as a remedy for illnesses.
- Like all the substances having more or less healing qualities, marzipan also was originally made in pharmacies. More precisely, in the oldest continuously operating pharmacy of Europe – The Town Hall Pharmacy of Tallinn, which was first mentioned already in 1422.
- The first people to consume marzipan were royalty and the rich rather than the poor. The figures made from marzipan sugar paste and jellies were presented at the end of a medieval feast.
- Marzipan is good for the brain activity, because almonds contain a lot of lecithin, which according to modern chemistry, stimulates the nerve cells.
- A Mozartkugel, is a popular, round sugar confection made of pistachio marzipan and nougat that is covered with dark chocolate.