I thought gingerbread was simply an offshoot of the story of Hansel and Gretel via the Brothers Grimm.
I was wrong.
A Wilton baking website, boasting that they made 2,000,000 gingerbread houses in one year alone, credits an Armenian monk with bringing Gingerbread to Europe in the 10th century. Gingerbread became a staple of Swedish nuns, and then of European monasteries in general. Later, gingerbread came to be sold in markets and pharmacies.
Only then did it make its way to Jolly Old England, to be displayed in shop windows as gingerbread houses. So the origin of the gingerbread house is actually England, via the Brothers Grimm, European monasteries, Swedish nuns, and one Armenian monk. Whew!
Thank you, One and All. We have had much fun with gingerbread!
Many people create amazing gingerbread houses. People set up a dreamscape of sugary goodness, organized like a painter’s palette, ready to be assembled into beautiful structures. I have seen pictures of tidy red cinnamon dots in orderly rows on rooftops…pretzel and licorice fences, flat suckers designed into stained glass windows. In my imagination, they look just like scenes from the Nutcracker, dripping with sweetness and happiness.
This is not what my children imagine. Not quite.
We used to bake our own gingerbread, and cut it into our desired architectural shapes before baking. This is a day-long process. We even do it gluten free. But now, there are just too many of us. It would take all my free time for a week to bake enough gingerbread. So this year, we bought many boxes of gluten free crackers in different shapes, and those were our foundation. It didn’t sound enticing at all to some of the kids,
“After all, Mom, a gluten free cracker is still a gluten free cracker even if you cover it in chocolate! Ew!”
But the rest of us were thrilled. Here are a few gems from our annual Gingerbread House Decorating Day. Not for the faint of heart…
Though the hobbit house was made of brownies and buttercream, the sweetness ended there.
Check out the lovely, Lord of the Rings chocolate-coated Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron. Just what you’d like decorating your Christmas table, right? Anything can happen when you pull out the gluten free crackers, chocolate chips and gummy bears! The gummy bear army is assembled, ready for an Orc battle.
The funny part is that the Eye of Sauron disappeared before it could be attached. We blamed the dog. But how could anyone resist the gummy bear covered, frosted cookie the kids had made? So a second Eye was prepared. We made it from the only transparent goo left in the house: Fiber Gummies. Five of ‘em, melted into a round bottle cap, peeled out after it was chilled.
Everyone was warned not to eat it. Really. Who would want to eat something as evil as they Eye of Sauron anyway? If they did, they were warned of the consequences. What does five times the normal dose of fiber do to someone? How much of a laxative could it be?
Anyway, it’s gone. Someone ate the evil Eye of Sauron.
Merry Christmas, One and All!