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Historical - representation of Jesus

Eating Jesus?

The idea to eat Jesus may first appear shocking to some people – but is it really? Apparently, the tradition to include representations of Jesus in dessert preparations – apart from flesh and blood (altar bread and wine) – goes back centuries both in the old and new world. Among the most prominent examples are the American King Cake and the German Christstollen.


A rich fruit bread/cake from central Germany, especially the city of Dresden ... the name is derived from an Old High German word, stollo, meaning a support or post. The characteristic shape of Stollen--oblong, tapered at each end with a ridge down the centre--is said to represent the Christ Child in swaddling clothes, whence the name Christstollen was sometimes given to it. The Dresden Stollen, now internationally known as a Christmas speciality, is made from rich, sweet yeast dough, mixed with milk, eggs, sugar and butter, sometimes flavoured with lemon. Raisins, sultanas, currants, rum or brandy, candied peel, and almonds are worked into the dough. After baking, the Stollen is painted with melted butter and dusted with sugar. It may then be further decorated with candied fruits ..."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 1999 (p. 755)

King cake

"King cake. A brioche-style cake made during the Louisiana carnival season, beginning in January and ending at Mardi Gras...By tradition the cake contains a red bean (sometimes covered in gold or silver leaf) or a figurine of the baby Jesus. It is sold widely throughout Louisiana ... the person who finds the bean or figurine is promised good luck. There are various stories as the origins of their cake, though most in some way derive from the legend of the Three Kings visiting the infant Jesus in Bethlehem, as described in the New Testament. In the first half of
the sixteenth century France commemorated Kings' Day--the twelfth day after Christmas--with a "Twelfth Night cake." A century later King Louis XIV took part in such a feast at which gateau des Rois ("Kings' cake") contained a hidden bean or ceramic figure, as it does to this day. Before the Civil War American King cakes often contained gold, diamonds, or valuable instead of beans; after the war, with the end of gala Creole balls in Louisiana, peas, beans, pecans, and coins were used, and in 1871 the tradition of choosing the queen of the Mardi Gras was determined by who drew the prize in the cake...The colours of purple (for justice), green (for faith). And gold (for power) that traditionally tint the cake's icing first appeared in 1872 after the Rex Krewe, a Mardi Gras parade organization, chose those colours to celebrate that year's festival."
---Encyclopaedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar- Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 175)