Friday, February 4, 2011

Timely Trains and Tasty Treats, or Strange Name for a Train

In a scene in my work-in-progress, my characters take a train from Baden to Zurich. In doing research, I discovered a delightful piece of 19th century history.

A Baden specialty
While surrounding countries built railroads in order to move people and commerce more economically, the Swiss resisted, not only for geographical reasons (the mountains) but also because land owners did not want to part with their land. Finally, in August of 1847, the first rail line was opened in Switzerland by the Swiss Northern Railway system. The train ran from Zurich to Baden, a distance of twenty kilometers. It took forty-five minutes, making two stops along the way.

Baden was famous for its Spanish rolls, which originated in Milan during the 17th century, when the city was under Spanish control. Later, under the laws of the Swiss canton, these rolls could only be distributed within Switzerland from Baden.

Before railroads came to Switzerland, the gentry of Zurich, eager to impress their clients at Sunday teas, sent their servants to Baden to buy the popular rolls. The servants then had to leave Baden at midnight, in order to have the rolls back in Zurich in time for Sunday morning teas.

With the opening of the rail line between the two cities, servants were sent on the train to buy the buns, bringing the delectable sweets back to Zurich, still warm. The train became known over time as the Spanisch-Brötli-Bahn, the Spanish bun train.

To me, the rolls look a little like hot cross buns, with maybe some kind of filling. No matter. If I ever visit Switzerland, I’m certainly going to buy a Spanish bun.


Renee said...

What an interesting little tidbit.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Renee: Thanks for stopping by. I love your picture. The "sepia" effect makes you like like an elegant Victorian grande dame.
Glad you liked the post, and congrats on home schooling.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I'm getting hungry just looking at those buns and I already had dinner! Have you to traveled to Switzerland? My younger son who previously worked for a Swiss company has told me how lovely a country it is.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Don't they look delicious? No wonder he gentry wanted them for tea! No, I've never been to Switzerland but would really love to go--Sound of Music and all that. Maybe I'll get a chance. Your son is lucky to have seen it, and be paid to see it at that! Thanks for stopping by.