Louga Pretzels/Bretzeln, Cooking with LyeI have been eating Louga Bretzeln (pretzels made with lye) for most of my life. After the last of the local Philadelphia bakeries to produce these closed, I had the luck to speak with the owner of this bakery, and get as detailed instructions as he could give me about the making of Louga Bretzeln. I have detailed instructions if anyone would want them. But as a background, I found out that it is in fact fine to use soap-grade lye from the cleaning isle at your supermarket, to baste the pretzels. VERY importantly, though, it is necessary to first boil the lye in a water dilution. Lye is used commonly as rat poison, but is not toxic, per se. It's danger and rat-killing property is that dry lye, when wettened, heats up. The lye a rat swallows essentially burns out the inside of the rat, with heat. (Sorry for the graphic description, there!). -- Now, for the good part! Louga Bretzeln, which are native to South Western Germany (Schwaben), are made by basting the ready-to-bake pretzels with the pre-boiled solution. They are then to be cooked on a baker's screen (a screen one would fry or bake doughnuts on), and the lye will mostly cook off, but lend a buttery flavour that I do not think can be duplicated or approximated, otherwise. (Haven't tried the baking soda thing, though). They are delish beyond compare, and best eaten heated in the toaster overn, split in half, with unsalted whipped butter. Alternatively, German smoke-cured ham such as Westfalienschinken, Lachsschinken, or Schwqarzwalderschinken (close to Prosciutto) can be eaten, with butter, on a baked louga pretzel sandwich.