Anyone who’s ever sank their teeth into a buttery, flaky, oh-so-tasty croissant knows that this beautiful baked good is the very embodiment of the phrase, “tres magnifique.” Just how special are they? An entire day is devoted to their honor!
But how did the French corner the market on pastry perfection, and is it possible to enjoy the croissant-eating experience without making a trans-Atlantic passage? Let’s take a closer look at the history of this favorite French food, along with where to find these divine delicacies stateside on National Croissant Day this January 30th or any day of the year.
With Love…From Vienna?
In tracing the history of croissants back to their beginnings, an unexpected lineage arises. As it turns out, croissants may not be entirely French. Co-opted by the French as recently as the 19th century, croissants actually derive from a centuries-old Austrian baked good: the kipfel.
The French did, however, put their own spin on it — a spin which is largely responsible for why croissants have claimed such a premier spot in the international breakfast canon: the ingenious addition of puff pastry can be directly attributed to the French.
The precise heritage of the croissant, however, is unknown in terms of how it traveled from Vienna to France. Some sources say the cult of croissants began at a Viennese bakery in Paris. Others credit the croissant’s rise to Marie Antoinette, who may have requested that local bakers replicate a favorite from her homeland upon her arrival in France.
Regardless of exactly how croissants got to France, the phenomenon took an even longer time to reach the U.S. In fact, it wasn’t until 1984 the New York Times announced that “the Americanization of the croissant” was underway.
But how do you know you’re getting the real, delicious deal in an era in which you can grab a dozen inferior croissants at any supermarket chain or even your local Burger King? The answer is simple: by sticking with bakeries honed in the art of croissant making.
Introducing Ceci-Cela Patisserie
Our pick when it comes to enjoying the authentic croissant experience? New York City’s celebrated Ceci-Cela. Of this Nolita patisserie’s extraordinary croissants, The NY Daily News once proclaimed, “You can’t talk about croissants in New York City without mentioning master pastry chef Laurent Dupal and his Spring St. shop Ceci-Cela.” It’s no surprise that Ceci-Cela took home the paper’s “best croissant” honors. But that’s hardly all. New York Magazine declared Ceci-Cela pastries to be “impossibly delicious” while Washington Square News included the bakery among “the top five places to celebrate Parisian Pastry Day with puffy treats.”
Of course for many of us, a jaunt to New York is about as likely as a jaunt to Paris, which is why Ceci-Cela’s partnership with mail order food company FoodyDirect is worth noting. From the inimitable original to doubly decadent pain au chocolat, these culinary works of art can be delivered directly to your door and enjoyed at your leisure. They can even be frozen and stored, although we challenge you not to devour them all before they even see the inside of your freezer.
Historians tell us that Marie Antoinette never actually uttered the words, “Let them eat cake!” And while she probably never said, “Let them eat croissants!” either, January 30th is the perfect opportunity to pretend like she did. But croissants are so delicious — why not share the amour? Selections from Ceci-Cela are also the perfect gifts for foodies. Shop FoodyDirect’s scrumptious selection of foods and gifts today.