I think I could write a post about the food in every city and village we've visited, it has been so good. But Christmastime in Strasbourg was about as good as it gets.
Shops we're open late for people to snag more gingerbread (pain d'épices), cheeses, sausage, and wine.
Bakers were doing overtime, not only whipping up special holiday breads and cakes, but also producing loads more to feed the masses of holiday tourists and visitors in for the season.
Bakers also had to supply hundreds of pretzels and baguettes (to house all those bratwursts!) to the vendors at the Christmas market, or Christkindelsmarik, as it's referred to locally.
One day we stumbled upon an entire pop-up bakery right in the middle of a public square, with hot ovens churning out holiday treats for market vendors:
They weren't the traditional pure butter, stone oven goods you see at older boulangeries, but the entire place, enclosed in plastic walls with sealed doors, smelled too good to pass up a salty pretzel.
The round, curvy-edged cakes are called kougelhopf, a sweet yeasted cake from Alsace. It tastes similar to brioche, although some bakers put nuts and fruit in theirs. When Trae and I stayed in Riquewihr, a tiny old town in the middle of the Alsatian vineyards on the far eastern edge of France, the woman who ran the guesthouse made us kougelhopf for breakfast. The name is in Alsatian, a French regional language that's actually a dialect of German.
The entire Alsace region has ping ponged back and forth between France and Germany for centuries, with some Alsatians fiercely defending their Frenchness and others enlisting in the German army in various wars to prove their Germanness. These days, it's French, but only lately so -- the Treaty of Versailles officially annexed it to France in 1918.
Trae and I are currently in northern Germany, where there are STILL Christmas markets set up. A post on Germany is coming soon!