Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bear With Me...

My good friend and magical Genie Princess Marzie is celebrating her 2nd Blogiversary this year! What an achievement! Congrats!! To commemorate the event she is having another one of her great contests!! The prize…a Mariuca Teddy Bear….the challenge naming the bear!

Well that's easy…a name came into mind right away… I dub thee.....

Marzipan!!! and my sister Penelope!

Why I chose Marzipan…well firstly because it has Marzie in it and secondly because the color of the bear was a shade of almond and since Marzipan is also made out of almonds, plus Marzipan s sweet just like Marzie is, so what better name could it be.

An almond...notice the color similarities with the Mariuca bear!

Not enough just to name the bear I decided to do a little research….and came up with some interesting facts…

From Wikipedia…(scroll to the end of the article for the main point)
Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar and almond meal.
It derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute 4% to 6% of the total almond content by weight. Some marzipan is also flavored with rosewater. Persipan is a similar, but cheaper product, for which the almonds are replaced by apricot or peach kernels.

Marzipan is often made into sweets: common uses are marzipan-filled chocolate and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It is also rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes and is traditionally used in wedding cakes, Christmas cakes, and stollen. In some countries marzipan is shaped into small figures of animals as a traditional treat for New Year's Day. Marzipan is also used in Tortell, and in some versions of king cake eaten during the Carnival season.

In Italy, particularly in Palermo, marzipan (marzapane) is often shaped and painted with food colorings to resemble fruit — Frutta martorana — especially during the Christmas season. In Portugal, traditional marzipan (maçapão) fruit shaped sweets made in the Algarve region are called morgadinhos. There are other regions, as Toledo in Spain in which marzipan is shaped into simple animal shapes, and usually filled in with egg yolk (yema) and sugar. In Latin American cuisine, marzipan is known as mazapán and is also traditionally eaten at Christmas, though "Mazapan" is generally made with peanuts in place of almonds. In the Netherlands Marzipan figures are given as presents to children during Saint Nicholas' Eve.
In the Middle-East, marzipan (known as lozina, which is derived from the word "lows", the Arabic word for almonds) is flavored with orange-flower water and shaped into roses and other delicate flowers before they are baked.

The South Asian sweet Badam Barfi is also made from almonds.

Although it is believed to have originated in Persia (present-day Iran) and to have been introduced to Europe through the Turks, there is some dispute between Hungary and Italy over its origin. Marzipan became a specialty of the Baltic Sea region of Germany. In particular, the city of Lübeck has a proud tradition of marzipan manufacture (Lübecker Marzipan). The city's manufacturers like Niederegger still guarantee their marzipan to contain two thirds almonds by weight, which results in a juicy, bright yellow product of highest quality. Historically, the city of Königsberg in East Prussia was renowned for its marzipan production. Today, the term Königsberger Marzipan still refers to a special type of marzipan in Germany.
Another possible geographic origin is Toledo, Spain (850-900, though more probably 1150 during the reign of Alfonso VII, then known as Postre Regio instead of Mazapán) and Sicily (1193, known as panis martius or marzapane, i.e., March Bread)[1]. In both cases, there is a reason to believe that there is a clear Arabic influence for historical reasons[1] (both regions were under Muslim control) and there are also mentions in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights of an almond paste eaten during Ramadan and as an aphrodisiac[2]. 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[2]. In Toledo, Mazapán is also one of the city's products. Almonds have to be at least 50% of the total weight, following the directives of Mazapan de Toledo regulator counseil[3].

Under EU law, marzipan must have a minimum almond oil content of 14% and a maximum moisture content of 8.5%. Optional additional ingredients are rosewater, honey, pistachios, preservatives, and sometimes hazelnut. In the U.S., marzipan is not officially defined, but it is generally made with a higher ratio of sugar to almonds than almond paste[4][5]. One brand, for instance, has 28% almonds in its marzipan, and 45% almonds in its almond paste.[6] However, in Sweden and Finland almond paste refers to a marzipan that contains 50% ground almonds, a much higher quality than regular marzipan. In Germany, Lübecker Marzipan is known for its quality. It contains 66% almonds.


Bears made from marzipan.

The German name has largely ousted the original English name marchpane with the same apparent derivation: "March bread. (This is the clincher because Maricua was the name given to Marzie by her old Italian professor when she was in the univestity….and she is a hopeless romantic, 3rd & 4th degree)" Marzapane is documented earlier in Italian than in any other language, and the sense "bread" for pan is Romance.

Next fact (5th degree)
How many bears do you know who have birthdays? Well this Polar bear named Knut does and how does he do it? Well on his first birthday last year Berlin's biggest celeb rings in the occasion with massive marzipan cake LOL I guess that means he also celebrates being two this year on December 3 ….the same day the contest end too...

Knut the polar bear with his 1st Birthday Marzipan cake!

And finally (6th degree)…

Seeing as how the US elections are going on right now (just in case you’re from Mars and didn’t know!) a Presidential fact - "Teddy" Bears are named after former US President Theodore Roosevelt. His distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt was also a US President and married to Eleanor Roosevelt, who my daughter shares her name with and whom I'm writing this post for to win the little bear!

Teddy and the bear

So those are the BEAR facts that I came by in my little quest to win Marzipan the Bear on Mariuca’s second anniversary with a little six degrees of separation thrown in!

Extra Extra Read all about it!

I just realized that Mariuca's Perfume Gallery is also celebrating her birthday! Two for one! Happy belated birthday Marzie for MPG! She is also having a competition to mark the special occasion and me being me (shameless and all) decided to try to give a name the bear Penelope after Penelope Pitstop of the Wacky Races cartoo series! I'm not going to be as elobrate as before but here is a little fact about the name that I found out after giving it...err from wikipedia again...
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Homer's Odyssey, Penelópē is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and so is eventually rejoined with him. Prior to recent readings, her name had been associated with faithfulness.

I kept it short this time but Homer's Odyessy...LOL I couldn't help myself because that was my first and only avatar when I started blogging! Doh!!

Penelope and Homer and pals! Priceless!