The Marzipan Chronicles

When I was a small child I used to accompany my mother to the bakery just around the corner. Our next-door neighbour worked in there and she’d always let me choose a cake and refused to take any money for it. I invariably chose a sponge rectangle covered in chocolate, with a chocolate Flake on top. But what made this cake special for me wasn’t the chocolate, but the thin layer of green marzipan just under the surface. I probably didn’t even know that it was marzipan, and certainly had no idea it was made from almonds, but it gave that small cake a little extra zing.

A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a friend in Hamburg and she suggested we drive north an hour to visit the town of Lübeck. The guidebook listed various sights: churches, town hall, attractions based around the works of local author Thomas Mann, and then mentioned that marzipan was invented in Lübeck. Needless to say we made a beeline for Niederegger, the most famous marzipan café/shop. Having bought more chocolate-covered marzipan selection boxes than were strictly necessary, plus a couple of lumps of marzipan in the shape of vegetables for the children (they chose a carrot and a potato), we headed up to the third floor to see the Marzipan Salon.

Here’s the town of Lübeck, made out of marzipan.

A marzipan ship.

And the pièce de résistance (or however you say that in German), a Last Supper-style gathering of life-sized Lübeck luminaries, all made entirely out of marzipan.

The young man holding a book is Thomas Mann. Well, not the real one, obviously, unless he left some rather unusual instructions about what to do with his body when he died…

“Behold! A world of marzipan!”

Actually I feel a bit sick now.