Confectionery that descends through the female line
When Ferenc Schwabl opened a shop in Szentháromság (Trinity) Street in 1827, he could not presume that his shop would still operate nowadays. The place has become a legend; but we can report on some points of interest from before Vilmos Ruszwurm’s appearance. It is interesting that though the confectionery always descended through the female line, we hardly know anything about the wives, who held their ground alone in the shop for a while. We know that after Schwabl’s early death, his widow married Lénárd (Lóránt) Richter, thus he ran the prospering shop afterwards. He was so popular that his desserts were carried to Vienna by relay express.
During this period, the still visible varnished cherry-wood furniture was made, which survived several sieges and has been a sample example of the Hungarian Biedermeier furniture style since then. Interestingly, not only the furniture, but also the former chocolate and bonbon boxes survived. Richter died in 1846. As of that time, his widow and assistant Antal Müller replaced him. It seems that Müller was not only an excellent confectioner but also a brave patriot, when he was captured after the capitulation in Világos and was a prisoner in Újépület as well. It is not surprising that even a gastro-historical legend is related to his name. His frequent guest and friend Lieutenant Rudolf Linzer liked his short pastry with jam that Müller named after the Lieutenant in his honour. Unfortunately, the truth is less romantic, because recipes in Hungarian language had already been recorded much earlier about Linzer rings and cakes. The patriotic master’s career was not broken by his rebellionist behaviour. In 1865, he could decorate the tables of the Emperor’s court. During the crowning ceremony in 1867, his daughter Róza could give Queen Elisabeth the flower bunch made of sugar and shiraz gum. How famous was his shop? Queen Elisabeth had her breakfast carried from here, because she adored the spearmint finger-biscuits of the confectionery.
After Müller’s death, Vilmos Ruszwurm (and his wife Róza Müller) directed the legendary confectionery until 1922. Vilmos Ruszwurm was mentioned as a leading personality of the Hungarian confectioner sector, and the popularity of his shop remained also between the two wars. His guests were mainly aristocrats, office-holders, military officers. Names like Andrássy, Ferenc Deák or Eötvös are written in the business book of the shop. The life of the confectionery was the most exciting at the time of Christmas, New Year’s Day and the carnival season. That time, it was already fashionable to crown the feasts with delicate sweets. After 1922, Ruszwurm retired gradually, and his assistant Ferenc Tóth took over the lead.
Women behind the cauldron?
The confectioner profession was men’s art for a long time. However, Ruszwurm was progressive in this aspect as well, because it was the only place where female apprentices could learn. Many people were surprised in the spring of 1932, when Baroness Blanka Korányi enrolled in the Ruszwurm. Her apprentice mates received the baroness astonished in the beginning, but Financial Minister Frigyes Korányi’s daughter passed the test of the six months’ apprenticeship. When the time of the exam arrived, the president of the Trade Corporation Henrik Spelter put the questions to her. Her assistant initiation ceremony was in August 1932, and the whole general staff of the Trade Corporation was there at the banquet. We know about just a few female students, as we already mentioned, among confectioners only Ferenc Tóth made contracts with female apprentice candidates. We must mention Julianna Jakus from Esztergom, Ágnes Mérő from Járosd, Erika Vendrei from Badacsony and Ilona Tóth, the master’s daughter. The shop preserved the name Ruszwurm even after the socialization in 1951, and now belongs to the company Szamos Marcipán.
Translated by Zita Aknai
Gundel Imre · Harmath Judit, A vendéglátás emlékei, Közgazdasági és Jogi, Budapest, 1982.
Draveczky Balázs · Balázs mester, Történetek terített asztalokról és környékükről, Pallas, Budapest, 2002.