I love bread. Anybody paying attention here around the ‘duck knows that, but I just noticed that I have not yet blogged about two of the most important bread topics there are. I’m not talking about bialys, I already did that, I’m talking about pumpernickel, and that means I’m also talking about When Pigs Fly.

My love of pumpernickel goes way back to a black corn rye I used to get in New York called “Russian Health Bread” by that particular bakery, long since closed. I’ve never really figured out what it was or where to get anything like it, but I’ve been a fan of dark dark rye ever since. In college, I met somebody who seemed to know what I was talking about. I eagerly asked what it was called, and almost sobbed when he said, “chleb,” which simply means “bread” in Russian. (хлеб) Not much help there.

I’ve had some great black bread in Finland, but it wasn’t until I discovered When Pigs Fly a few years ago that I got a decent local source for a good daily black bread. WPF pumpernickel isn’t as black as the Russian bread, but it’s darker than most and redolent of coffee, anise, chocolate, caraway and all sorts of complex flavors. I like it with sharp cheedar cheese and thin slices of pear or green apple, with salami and tomato, with honey roasted peanut butter, and especially with smoked fish. Not all at once, please.

Now they have a bakery store in Davis Square, at 378 Highland Ave., a block from my office and right next door to Kick Ass Cupcakes. This store carries varieties not available in the regular supermarkets, things like tomato bread and chocolate bread pudding cake. And because they sell whole loaves sliced on demand, it tastes a good deal fresher than the pre-sliced loaves in the supermarket. I can’t recommend it enough. They have free samples and are very friendly. Go check it out.

PS – I’m not even going to discuss the possibility that “pumpernickel” means “devil fart”


The Philologist Johann Christoph Adelung states about the Germanic origin of the word, in the vernacular, Pumpen was a New High German synonym for being flatulent, a word similar in meaning to the English “fart“, and “Nickel” was a form of the name Nicholas, an appellation commonly associated with a goblin or devil (e.g., “Old Nick“, a familiar name for Satan). Hence, pumpernickel is described as the “devil’s fart”, a definition accepted by the Stopes International Language Database,[2] the publisher Random House,[3] and by some English language dictionaries, including Webster’s Dictionary.[4] The American Heritage Dictionary adds “so named from being hard to digest.”

[wikipedia, where else?]