"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are" or at least so said the poet.
And like so many aphorisms penned by the late great gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, this one generally holds true. T-ravs for dinner? Why, you must be from St. Louis! Making a meal of salad with no dressing? Ah! You're an anorexic.
But like all great rules, this one is proved mainly by its exception: Mestemacher All Natural Famous German Westphalian Pumpernickel with Whole Kernels.
Judging from the packaging on this diminutive loaf of impossibly dense brown bread, this pumpernickel is meant to recall all the romance of a weekend getaway in Baden-Baden. Reminiscent of those photos often used to sell condoms by the box, the package shows a lantern-jawed lover with artfully mussed hair, bedroom eyes and only the slightest dusting of stubble pressing his forehead against a bare-armed beauty whose blond tresses are casually swept back in a seductive bun.
So now we know: Nothing says romance like a loaf of Mestemacher All Natural Famous German Westphalian Pumpernickel with Whole Kernels.
M. Brillat-Savarin, assuming he is buried, must be spinning in his grave.
This is pumpernickel, after all fare for peasants and stockyard animals, not springtime lovers. And try though this package of whole-kernel pumpernickel may to mask its roots, the lie is in bold print right above our lovebird hucksters: Pumpernickel.
Derived from the German, "Nickel" is a form of the name Nicholas, or "Old Nick," often associated with goblins, devils even Satan. It goes downhill from there. According to Webster's Third New International Dictionary, "Pumper" is a derivation of "pumpern," a synonym for flatulent, or farty.
In other words, a loaf of Mestemacher Pumpernickel may be all-natural, famous and sport a pretty couple on the package, but at base it remains a peasant bread that will make you fart like the devil.
Etymologists speculate that pumpernickel earned its reputation for devilish flatulence from its dense crumb, dark color and problematic digestibility. And though a loaf of Mestemacher all-natural pumpernickel has the bread's signature density and moistness, its packaging also has this couple who look like they're physically unable to sweat let alone fart so I had to wonder if the folks at Mestemacher had somehow managed a pumpernickel whose lowly roots had been airbrushed away.
Flavorwise, the dense-fleshed loaf delivers pumpernickel's distinctive nutty taste with a slight hint of molasses. As for the other: Mestemacher may have dressed up its All Natural Famous German Westphalian Pumpernickel with Whole Kernels in a fancy package, but to paraphrase M. Brillat-Savarin: Break this bread, and I'll know who you are.