The other day my neighbor Margitta raved to me about a cake from a Berkeley bakery called Crixa Cakes. Now, I'm a big baked-goods fan, and I live near Berkeley, but I'd never heard of Crixa Cakes. When I located it online, I was surprised to learn it is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
And of course I was curious about the name. What on earth did "Crixa" mean? Margitta couldn't tell me; all she knew was that the owners, a married couple, were Hungarian, or maybe Russian, and that the bakery sold Central and Eastern European specialties. Did "Crixa" come from Hungarian or Russian? Or maybe Albanian or Maltese or Basque, all of which I dimly recalled having a lot of X's? Or was it a word invented to chime pleasantly with "cakes"?
None of the above, as it turns out. But owners Elizabeth Kloian and Zoltan Der had anticipated my question. Here's what their FAQ says:
Crixa is lapin for crossroads. Lapin is the language of the rabbits in Richard Adam's [sic] novel Watership Down. In the book Crixa is the center of Efrafa, the rabbit warren. It is located at the crossing point of two bridle paths.
In Berkeley, Crixa Cakes is at the crossroads of Adeline Street and Shattuck Avenue on the site of an old horse stable.
Well, I am impressed. I'd read Watership Down (by Richard Adams) years ago, and seen the excellent animated movie, too (warning: too scary for young children). I remembered that the rabbit characters spoke their own language, Lapine (from lapin, French for "rabbit"), but I'd forgotten all of its vocabulary, and it had never occurred to me to mine that text for my own naming work.
In sound--crispy consonants, mouthwatering alliteration--and meaning, "Crixa" is an inspired choice for this former horse stables-turned-bakery at a city crossroads. It's fresh and unfamiliar yet easy and fun to pronounce, and its story makes it memorable. And the charming logo (see above) underscores the literary association. Congratulations--and happy anniversary!
P.S. On the sign, cukrászda comes not from Lapine but from Hungarian. It means "confectionery."
P.P.S. Oh, and the pastries? Friends, I performed time- and calorie-consuming research, and I'm happy to report that there are some delicious names on the menu. There's a Soprano Tiramisu ("with a dark streak"). There's a Rigó Jancsi cake that comes with a great story. And there are the suggestively named Fatima's Thighs, made with rosewater and almonds and a prodigious quantity of butter: sublime.