The festive season is quickly approaching.
I don’t know about you, but there’s one thing that comes to mind when I think of Christmas – Marzipan.
If you’re a fan of marzipan like myself, I would recommend booking yourself a trip to the German town of Lubeck as soon as possible.
The city itself is absolutely stunning. It’s history is clear in the Medieval and Renaissance style spotted throughout.
Lubeck is also home to marzipan giant, Niederegger (Knee-eh-duh-regger).
The only possible way to explain how epic Niederegger and their marzipan creations are would be – Niederegger are the Willy Wonka of the marzipan world.
Founder Johann Georg Niederegger originally was the apprentice of another confectioner, Johann Gerhard Maret. Niederegger was 23 at the time.
He must have been a pretty damn good apprentice because after Mare died, his widow transferred the business to Niederegger.
He established the business as his own with an announcement in 1806.
The city of Lubeck then watched as Niederegger continuously worked on making the business bigger and better than ever.
20 years later, Maret’s grown-up son took over the business.
Don’t you worry about Niederegger though. He was all ready and set to go.
He’d saved up enough money to buy a building right across from the Town Hall.
Bearing in mind this was all the way back in 1822, Niederegger still own that building today. Sure, it’s been expanded, demolished and rebuilt a number of times but still…
It’s fair to say that Niederegger has been a standard part of Lubeck’s ever-developing landscape since all the way back then.
Where the original Niederegger factory stood, now stands the Niederegger Shop, Cafe and Marzipan Museum.
Originally, marzipan was originally made by pharmacies and was actually thought of as a remedy. For what? Who knows.
Apothecaries and pharmacies actually had the exclusive right to make marzipan around the 13th century.
Then in the 14th century, marzipan was seen as a sign of class and wealth. It became a favorite dessert of aristocratic houses and was something many noble people would gift to each other.
Niederegger has been based in Lubeck since it’s creation way back in 1806.
The recipe itself for Niederegger marzipan has barely changed since then. But, we do know that the recipe consists of a very specific mixture of almonds, sugar and ‘an ingredient similar to rosewater.’
Nobody knows the exact recipe however.
There is literally a room in the factory where they add the rosewater-esque secret ingredient to the marzipan. There are around five people who know what the actual ingredient is.
I told you – Niederegger are a modern day Willy Wonka.
‘Goose-worth of marzipan’
Niederegger was responsible for suppling the royals of Europe with marzipan creations.
Russian Tsar Alexander II in particular was a regular client. He would often order life-size marzipan geese.
It’s believed he would gift them to ‘deserving subjects.’
Imagine the scene. You do an incredibly noble deed – Perhaps you save someone’s life in a dramatic ordeal. You’re informed that the Tsar is sending you a thank you gift.
There’s a knock at the door. You open the door.
A life-size marzipan goose is standing on your doorstep.
Fear not though. You’re in luck.
If your plan would have been to attempt to eat the entire thing, there are 50 different flavors that it might be made of.
The epic list of flavors includes: Pistachio, Apple Calvados, Pineapple, Rum Cracknell, Mirabelle Plum Brandy and Orange.
If you’re looking for a quaint weekend away in a city that feels like a Roald Dalh creation, Lubeck is the one for you.
The city is actually incredibly easy to get to despite being in far Northern Europe.
It’s one straight flight to Hamburg and then there are regular trains from Hamburg train station to Lubeck itself.
Prepare to be surrounded by history as the city protects it’s oldest buildings. Many houses were originally storage warehouses.
Niederegger itself has been handed down from generation to generation. The company is currently preparing for it’s next handover – From a father, to his two daughters.
With Christmas on the horizon, it’s time to start preparing yourself for marzipan galore.