Title   Kneel Coocien (Search for the image)
Translated title Cinnamon Wafercakes
Intro Text by dr D. Barnes, accompanying Bramer’s drawing of a vendor of cinnamon waffers (`kaneelwafel verkoopster’)

Code of occupational group 45220
Description A woman is walking in a market place with a wicker basket over her right arm. Her open mouth suggests that she is singing out the availability of her tasty treats. She holds onto a rectangular flat wafer in her right hand, and extends her left arm to offer a wafer to two small boys standing near her. While her eyes are not focused on the boys, the boys look eager to receive it. Behind the boys, a man stands near a table. Two other men are near him. Whether they are making the wafers is impossible to tell. A fairly elaborate large building with a curved roof is behind them, surrounded by smaller buildings.

Cinnamon wafers were considered a treat, but were not as commonly consumed as pancakes. They were also cooked in long handled wafer presses or irons held over a fire. Because they contained no yeast, they did not rise but remained flat and crisp. Wafers were made in round shapes with images or designs pressed into the surface; others were rectangular. Cinnamon was one of the many spices which the Dutch imported by merchant ships in the Dutch East India Company's (VOC) trade with the Spice Islands. Wafers could also be flavored with imported ginger, nutmeg, or cloves, all favorite Dutch spices, in addition to sugar in the batter.

Pancake bakers were a familiar image in Dutch art; waffle irons were less frequently depicted, although one can be seen in Jan Steen's "Life of Man". Wafer vendors or wafer baking are ignored in Dutch paintings and prints. Wafer irons were sometimes given as wedding gifts to an affluent bridal couple, often with the initials of the newly-weds framed in a heart motif.

Source Donna R. Barnes, Ed D, Street scenes, Leonard Bramer's drawings of seventeenth-century daily life (Hofstra Museum exhibition 1991). Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York.

Click here for the introductory essay on Bramer's drawings.

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