8 Minute Read | By Gino De Blasio
Stage 14 and today is a real treat, in more way than one. Firstly in terms of pure racing, this stage is set to really, really, bring to life the battle for first in the Giro. It’s the mountains and anything can happen. Secondly, we’re talking strudel and not any strudel, but the Texan strudel. You really need to read this to make sense of what has just been said.
H.C.R. No. 92 was adopted by the House on May 16, 2003, by a non-record vote.
H.C.R. No. 92 is a thing of pure, jurisdictional beauty. Being a student of business and political sciences with a fellowship of language, I was, for the first time, blown away by this recording in the state legislature.
House Concurrent Resolution No. 92 is a state bill that, categorically informs that the Strudel and Sopapilla are “hereby designated as the official State Pastries of Texas until January 31, 2005.”
But what really stood out from H.C.R No. 92 was the language. It wasn’t as mellow as Wordsworth, as bloody as Chaucer or as mind twisting as Dante. It read like a completely satisfactory list as to why naming both the strudel and sopapilla pastries should be deemed as indeed, a State Pastry. Put in another way, for a Pope to canonise a new saint, his language would have to be as convincing as H.C.R. No. 92 to make it into my book.
WHEREAS, The State of Texas has customarily recognized a
variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of
the state’s historical and cultural heritage; and
WHEREAS, Among such icons are the rodeo, the state sport; the
guitar, the state musical instrument; and chili, the state dish;
WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the
sopaipilla and strudel as the official State Pastries of Texas
shall provide suitable recognition for these historic symbols of
the state’s cultural heritage, for the sopaipilla and strudel are
some of the earliest pastries known to have been made in Texas; and
WHEREAS, The primary ingredient of the sopaipilla and strudel
is wheat flour, the use of which in Texas can be traced as far back
as 1682 in Ysleta, the oldest continuously occupied community in
the state; located in present-day El Paso County, Ysleta is the site
of a mission established by Franciscan friars and Tigua Pueblo
Indians; the Tigua planted, harvested, and ground wheat for use in
meals that they prepared for the friars, and by the 1730s they were
cultivating wheat for themselves; and
WHEREAS, Like the grain from which it is made, the wheat flour
tortilla, too, can be traced to the El Paso area; it was produced
there several hundred years ago by the Tigua, using lard from
domesticated pigs, yet another item introduced in Texas by the
Spaniards; the Tigua, who originally helped to raise pigs for the
friars, had adopted the animals as a source for their own meals as
early as the second quarter of the 18th century; and
WHEREAS, Generally made from a flour dough recipe, the
sopaipilla was deep-fried in lard in earlier times and today is
fried in healthier oils; it has been known by the Tigua of the
Ysleta del Sur Pueblo as “Indian fry bread” for well over a hundred
years and is enjoyed by them on a variety of occasions; and
WHEREAS, Widely known throughout the great State of Texas and
across the nation, the sopaipilla and strudel are served in
restaurants and cooked at home, both from family recipes and from
store-bought mixes; the sopaipilla may be topped with honey,
cinnamon, or powdered sugar and may even be stuffed with beans,
meat, or ice cream; and
WHEREAS, The sopaipilla and strudel stand out among Texas
pastries because of their historic origins and universal appeal;
embraced today by Texans of every ethnic background, the sopaipilla
and strudel constitute a much-savored part of Texans’ shared
cultural identity; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas
hereby designate the sopaipilla and the strudel as the official
State Pastries of Texas until January 31, 2005.
Gettysburg address it ain’t, but this, this is what every food fan now has to hold to a higher standard when it comes to food recognition! Imagine how getting Pizza recognised across Europe to help protect Neapolitan Pizza chefs all over the world will now sound;
WHEREAS, The City of Naples has customarily recognised Diego
Armando Maradonna as a football deity and murrials
around the city show him in god like only form; and
WHEREAS, The City of Naples greatly acknowledges the influence
of the mandolin as being the percussive instrument of choice
on the waterfront overlooking the bay of Naples; and
WHEREAS, Among such icons are Mount Vesuvius, the City’s own personal volcano;
the spaghetti, the City’s own dried pasta; and the sfogliatella, the dessert;
now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the 1st Legislature of the City of Naples hereby designate the Pizza Margherita as the official
Food source of Neapolitans people of the world until the end of time.
If that doesn’t want to make you stand, find an internet source and book a flight to the waterfront city and dig into a slice of the greatest food source known to man, then nothing, NOTHING, will.
Take aside the gripping literature and put to the front of your mind what H.C.R. No. 92 was all about. Can you remember? Making strudel and sopapilla state pastries is something of a big deal. Yes, whilst it is a resolution that is legally non binding and does not require the approval of the President, Texas showed cowboy sized cojones to add these elements to their ever proud state colours.
As decreed in the resolution, it joins a star studded list with the guitar, rodeo and state dish, Chilli. CHILLI! That’s a list I want my name on.
Take Brigitte and Jürgen Kazenmeyer, two German bakers who in 2010 decided to leave their homes in Germany and settle in Texas making strudel.
As strange as the decision seemed, they wanted to embark on something “big” before they hit their 50’s. As random as a location as Texas is, it was Jurgen who decided on the state; choosing a location was going to be a little harder, a little less scientific. “So we followed our gut feeling. First we grabbed a map and took a good look at Texas. Houston appeared to be too big to gain a foothold, so we just traced the coastline with our fingers until we hit Corpus Christi. A few months later we visited Corpus to check things out there. For me, it was love at first sight.”
They seemed to have chosen well, fighting through a level of bureaucracy of which they weren’t even accustomed to in Germany, they managed to open their first branch five months after moving to the US and the state of Texas. As DW reported in December, 2015, ‘starting with a bakery on Padre Island just outside Corpus Christi, the couple managed to also open a shop in town and recently purchased a food truck to cater at events.’ Brigitte and Jurgen also struck it somewhat lucky with the clientele. Not too far from an air force base which has seen many of the pilots stationed in Germany, they were serving food that the “locals” were craving. “The majority are locals. There are many who come from the local Naval Air base. Many of them used to be stationed in Germany at some point, so they got accustomed to the German bread. And since we also offer German meals like Jägerschnitzel, Leberkäs and Spätzle, many keep coming back to see what’s new. It’s all very German, which is exactly what our customers appreciate, but there’s also a lot of innovation going on.” Fighting times of loneliness and not venturing much outside of Corpus Christi, TX, the Kazenmeyer’s have however settled well into their surroundings. “We adapted well to Texas. But then again, German culture does play a big role in Texas. If you scratch beneath the surface, you will find a rich history of German settlers. There’s even a Polka-dancing club here,” she points out. “Texans are proud of their German roots. And we’re proud to call ourselves Texans.” Out of all the states to adopt a sugary apple based delight, Texas would have been the ideal choice.
Out of all the states to adopt a sugary apple based delight, Texas would have been the ideal choice.
In the early 19th century, Texas saw a large influx of German immigration, especially from the 48ers movement (which saw cities as Ohio playing a prominent role in the US). As well as bringing polka-dancing, which is surely one of the better German traditions, strudel formed part of the culinary migration from settlers in the state.
“Strudel pastry is more a work of art than a piece of cooking. So thin you could, or should, be able to read a newspaper through it, it is not only flour and butter but has an egg in it, too, ensuring it is quite the most difficult of pastries to roll.”
Nigel Slater certainly has a way with words when describing an all time Austrian favourite. From pastry to apples, this dish has alone seen the extreme changes of cultural influences that has given us a complicated and yet sensory overwhelming dessert.
Starting life as a Turkish Baklava pastry in the mid 15th Century, the foundations for this “emperor of desserts” was set. Flaky filo pastry, sugary apple filling and variations that would continue to contribute to the ever growing array of strudel available in central Europe goes to show what a versatile yet uncompromising dish that it can be.
Take for example, the pastry. Claimed by the greeks to be their own, we understand that Turkish fighters from the Ottoman empire settled and were intent on spreading cultural identity, from fashion to food in their European conquests; it makes sense from a pure geographic perspective that the Turks win in this claim.
Apples, raisins, cinnamon and sugar, all combined to make a hearty filling, common of Turkish, Bosnian, Swiss, Alsatian, French, Dutch, Italian, German, Bohemian–Moravian (Czech), Hungarian, Polish, Croatian, Slovenian,Slovakian, Serbian, and Jewish cuisines.
As a dish it is quintessentially something that has a place across different regions, born out of different influences, culminating into a sugary melting pot. If it were a hotdog, you’d be calling the health inspector.
For a guide on how to make the perfect apple strudel, Felicity Cloake prepares another masterclass on the Guardian website with her recipe here. If Nigel Slater’s description left you wanting more, here is his recipe, warning, it’s addictive. For a different take on the strudel utilising similar ingredients but substituting the filo pastry with a rich shortcrust pastry, check out this recipe from Ruth Joseph and Simon Round.