Thursday, February 24, 2011

Powdered Sugar Overload

I just bought a pastry called a nun’s fart. Really! Okay, that’s actually the English translation of their real name, which is nonnefäscht in Luxembourgish or in pet de nonne in French.

It's Carnival season here, which means that new pastries are filling bakery window displays, full force. I've been spying these knotted donut-like treats for several weeks, so I finally decided to do a little investigating (er, tasting). So, today, in the name of research, I visited seven - yes, seven - different boulangeries to try to track down the five kinds of special Luxembourgish Carnival treats that I had read about here, and on a few other blogs. And Lux residents: I'm going to need your help tracking things down.

Apparently there are five kinds of treats eaten in Luxembourg for Carnival (or Carnaval) - or Fuesent, as it's called here. This is the list, according to a translation of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's official web site:
   • Verwurrelt Gedanken (scrambled thoughts), knots of dough with powdered sugar;
   • Nonnefäscht (nun’s farts), fritters dusted with powdered sugar;
   • Täertelcher (beignets),
   • Maisercher (mouse-shaped donut); and
   • Stretzegebäck (scalded dough cakes then baked in the oven).

I was easily able to track down the verwurrelt gedanken - which the bakeries had shortened to verwuerelter - and the nonnefäscht, which seemed to me to be essentially the same thing, apart from the verwuerelter being a bit larger than the nonnefäscht, and the nonnefäscht tasting a bit more deep-fried.

The last three items on the list were a challenge. I visited the Fischer bakery at Hamilius, Kaempff-Kohler, Bakes on the Grand Rue, Oberweis, Schumacher, Jean-Claude Arens in Belair, and window-shopped at Brioche Dorée. Everywhere I stopped, I showed the shopping list above. At every single location, the conversation went pretty much like this (except all other variations were me trying to say what I wanted in French, so a bit more comical):

"Hi, do you happen to have any of these three items?" I pointed to the täertelcher, maisercher and stretzegebäck on my shopping list.

"Is this in Luxembourgish?" asked the woman helping me at Oberweis, unfolding my list to see the top two items, which I had already found and bought several times over.

"Yes, I think so."

"We have these." She pointed to the knotted, powded sugar coated verwuerelter, though they were called yet another different name here (nonnes, perhaps?).

"Are those one of these three things at the bottom of the list?"

"No. What are those things?"

"I'm not really sure. But I read that they are special foods for Carnival season. You don't have any of them?"

"No, we have these," she said, pointing again to the knotted powdered sugar knots. She continued: "Well, we have täertelcher, but these are all täertelcher," she gestured to a glass case full of small fruit, chocolate and cream mini-tarts or tartlettes (which I knew were a permanent fixture, because I eye them every time I'm near a pâtisserie.)
Verwuerelter (left) and nonnefäscht (right).

"But are those special foods for Carnival?"


"Okay, then I guess I'll just take two of the powdered sugar knots."

Then off I went, my shopping bag growing heavier and heavier with powdered sugar knots, because everywhere I stopped, the staff were so willing to help that I felt guilty leaving empty-handed! So, here I sit, eating a plate full of deep-fried, powdered sugar deliciousness and trying to have the willpower to save at least a few for Nick to try when he gets home from work. (Which I have to do, because he reads this blog.)

Anyway, if you're taking notes: the pastries from Kaempff-Kohler and Jean-Claude Arens were my favorites.

The last three items on the list are probably out there somewhere under a different name. In retrospect, I think that the täertelcher are also called Berliners, filled donuts I've seen all over the place that are dipped in powdered sugar. But it's a little odd that none of the bakeries I visited had ever even heard of those remaining items, don't you think? Oh well, if the government of Luxembourg is advertising them, they must exist somewhere...

So, if you come across täertelcher, maisercher, or stretzegebäck, will you let me know in the comments section below where I can find them - and more importantly, what I should call them?

And by the time I hear from you, hopefully I will have come down from my verwuerelter and nonnefäscht sugar high and will be ready to stuff my face once again...all in the name of blog research, of course.

Afternoon spoils.

1 comment:

  1. MMMM-I wish I could have joined you in your research!