Marzipan Museum in Luebeck
During my first University excursion, strolling on the damp streets of Luebeck, trying to digest all the information I gathered about the queen of Hanseatic cities, I first discovered Marzipan.
“You must have heard of the famous Niederegger Marzipan”, my guide, a proud local, bragged. “Here’s the Marzipan museum”, pointing at, what looked like a bakery with a long queue.
I thought Marzipan was either a famous king or an artist of Mediaeval times, for why else will there be a museum. And I wasn’t sure what to expect from a museum that looked like a bakery.
Only when I ventured into the museum and read the menu I realised Marzipan wasn’t a person. The queue was waiting to buy Marzipan flavored ice cream, sweets, cakes, tea, you name it.
Turns out Marzipan is a concoction of ground almond and sugar sometimes honey. Interestingly enough, its origin traces back to the Orient.
Niederegger in Luebeck is the most popular marzipan producer. It is in the business since the Mediaeval times, when marzipan was considered an aphrodisiac and the choice of the royal and well-to-do fraternity. The almond delicacy was also believed to have medicinal properties. And Niederegger’s claim to fame is that it uses 100% almonds and no sugar.
Café Niederegger – Marzipan Museum in Luebeck
The café is perfectly set in the heart of the city, opposite to the grandiose town hall regarded as one of the most beautiful town halls in Germany.
The three-storey Cafe is a paradise for the sweet tooth. The second floor houses the museum, here you can learn the history of Marzipan and its evolution through the centuries. A massive map in the middle of the room traces the sugar trading route during Medieval times.
It is here I discovered that sugar was first produced in India during the first century and then the Arabs learnt the sugar production techniques and spread it further west.
It also houses twelve life-sized statues of prominent German historical figures made of Marzipan. A video screening shows the process of making Marzipan; from collecting the almonds in Spain to bringing the almond meal to life in Luebeck by giving it fascinating shapes drenched in delicious flavors.
The first floor is the most enticing. It has a Café with a view to the Rathaus (town hall), lures you with dozens of cakes and pastries on display. I took me nearly ten minutes to decide my order. I settled for a slice of Niederegger Marzipan Nusstorte, hazelnut cream covered with a moist layer of marzipan and guzzled it down with a mug of Marzipan hot chocolate.
And the ground floor is the mecca of Marzipan sweets. It is brimming with all things marzipan, including gift items and games that will reward you with Marzipan sweets.
It was here I first got my taste of Marzipan and then there is no looking back. I eat at least two Marzipan croissants a week. Although it is not good for my waistline, it has become an important ritual of my life. I eat Marzipan when I’m hungry, or happy, or bored, or it is Christmas, or when there is marzipan in sight.
To compare the taste with an Indian sweet, perhaps it’s milder and an exotic cousin of Badam burfi.