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Perhaps the original and ultimate Continental breakfast consists of coffee, milk and a croissant, the crescent-shaped flaky pastry of debatable origin. Here and now, I will reopen the debate. The word croissant is French for "crescent," the way the moon appears when lit by the sun from the back and side. In France the croissant is a kind of viennoiserie, a bread-like pastry which has been sweetened like a cake. The term is associated with Marie Antoinette, the Austrian archduchess who married the French King Louis XVI.
Like milk being steamed in a coffeehouse, the plot thickens. According to legend, the Viennese version of the croissant was created as a celebration of the defeat of the Ottoman Turkish Empire on a hill outside of Vienna in 1683. Vienna's coffeehouses are said to have been started with coffee left behind by retreating Turks. The Ottoman flag at the time had a golden crescent on a red background. Today's Turkish flag has a crescent with a star on a red background, and is called Ay Yildiz, translated as "moon star." The crescent, with or without the star, is often considered to be a symbol of Islam, as in the Red Crescent organization, the equivalent of the western Red Cross in Muslim lands.
The plot, however, thickens more. As far back as 670 BCE (before Christianity and Islam), the citizens of the Greek city-state Byzantium reportedly declared the crescent moon as their state symbol in honor of Artemis, goddess of the moon and of hunting. (Wikipedia). The crescent long before that had been the symbol of goddesses including Artemis. In the photocollage above, a statue of Artemis is shown along with the Turkish flag and a coin from Byzantium, which even includes the star, long since associated by non-Muslims with Aphrodite (Venus) and the Virgin Mary (Stella Maris, the Star of the Sea). You will note that Artemis, sculpted as shown (the Artemis of Ephesus) might not remind you of a croissant, but she sure makes you think of a latte. The Wikipedia says that the Ottoman Turks adopted the symbol of Byzantium after they captured Constantinople, the name of the same city when it was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Today it is the capital of Turkey and is called Istanbul. (From Jonathan's Coffeeblog).Permanent Link to This Entry | | Technorati Tags: Croissant Constantinople blog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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