This weekend a friend of mine moved into a new home and one of her housewarming gifts was an antique desk fitted with an expertly hidden compartment at the back of the bottom drawer (which she expertly found). The compartment, once opened by the pressing of a series of ingenious levers and buttons, contained a single letter dated January 10th, 1776. Research and appraisal has revealed that the desk dates to mid-19th century Savannah, Georgia. Though this is nearly a hundred years beyond the prime of Fin Button’s documented career, the letter secreted away within the desk is undoubtedly of her authorship. Why it was kept at all, and kept so secretly, we may never know, but there are clues.
The desk was originally purchased by Samuel Allen who, as I’m sure you know, was the preeminent strudeleer of the American south during the latter part of the 19th century. His notable advances in bakery have been well documented elsewhere but the over-riding mystery that plagued his final years was that of the near-mythical Brandenburg Strudel: a strudel rumored to be so extravagantly delicious that the reactions of its eaters were considered indecent by the papacy and subsequently it’s very existence has been denied by the Vatican for more than 200 years.
Conspiracy theorists suggest that following the public unveiling of the Brandenburg Strudel in the mid-18th century, the Holy See conducted one of the most flagrant culinary cover-ups in history in its attempt to maintain the sacred nature of the ordinary pastry. The complete lack of first-hand accounts or hard evidence of the Brandenburg Strudel leaves further investigation at an almost complete stand-still, and modern crypto-culinarians have generally concluded that no such strudel ever existed. If it did, the Vatican has done a masterful job of erasing all traces of it.
So was this letter a prized clue in Samuel Allen’s mad quest for the Baker’s Grail? It seems likely. The letter has been meticulously transcribed and uploaded to the Letters to Peter page. I leave it to the reader to decide.