The croissant's various origin stories are as varied as they come. A popular myth dates back to the Battle of Vienna in the 1680s, when the Turks had surrounded Vienna, cutting off supply lines in an effort to starve its inhabitants out. This apparently took longer than expected, and the Turkish army soon took to digging tunnels under the city to gain access. Bakers up late at night heard the tunneling, alerted the city's defenders, and saved Vienna from occupation. In celebration, the bakers made the croissant, taking the shape from the Ottoman flag.
Many people have taken issue with that story, noting that it didn't really spread around until the first edition of Larousse Gastronomique in 1938. In other versions of the story, the battle was in Budapest. Others credit the croissant to Marie Antoinette. Still others cite it back to Austrian August Zang, who, in the 1930s, opened one of the most famous Viennese bakeries in Paris, and later developed the croissant from the Austrian kipfel.
These disputes all underlie an accepted truth: everyone loves a great croissant. Even the bad ones are good. But who's got the best croissant in town? Vancouver Slop's going to find out, with the thankless task of sampling croissant after croissant - from restaurant, from bakery from cafe - until we come up with a declaratory win.
Here's the criteria:
- Butteriness - it goes without saying that a great croissant owes a heavy, heavy indebtedness to bricks, buckets and boatloads of butter;
- Flakiness - tear a croissant apart (which, of course, is the best way to eat one), and you should see flaky layer after flaky layer. Pretenders will end up resembling a solid dinner roll mess; and
- Lightness - while lightness and flakiness are common bed, lightness in itself can't be forgotten. A lovely croissant should float away like a balloon, a possible solution for the reported helium shortage.