Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where Is All The Gingerbread...??

One thing I remember from my early years, is the gingerbread at holiday time.

I especially liked the gingerbread men. I think there were probably some gingerbread women as well...but I don't remember the gender of the cookies being of any particular importance at the time!

I think we were mostly taken by the various ways in which they were decorated. Raisins for buttons, icing for eyes, whatever the whim of the decorator was at the time! It was beautiful, it was creative, it was delicious!

We didn't have very many gingerbread houses around at the holidays...I'm not sure why. I believe that with all the cooking, the wrapping, the decorating, and all the general chaos of the moment...they were not practical, but that's just my guess.

The point is, you don't see much gingerbread any more. In a way, that's surprising. Gingerbread has a very long and interesting history, just loaded with tradition. Here's a small bit of history of gingerbread that you might enjoy!

The Story of Gingerbread

Most early immigrants to North America came from Europe, therefore most customs are from European origin.

Gingerbread is traced to Europe back to the 11th century. Crusader returning from the Middle East and brought back among other items a spice -- ginger. Soon after, different varieties of gingerbread appeared throughout western Europe. The variations varied widely from sweet, dark, spicy, soft or crusty, the only common characteristic was the ginger spice.

Gingerbread, the name comes from the Latin word "Zingebar", and was not used until the 15th century. By that time, gingerbread gained great popularity, especially in Germany and France. Bakers in both countries formed their own guilds, which gave them exclusive rights to make and sell the bread. However, a law was formed which prohibits them to produce gingerbread at Eastern and Christmas ("Government Red Tape" was well established). This law was eliminated in the 16th century, because of the popularity and favorite attraction of Gingerbread Bakers at market places, were gingerbread was freshly baked. Gingerbread gained such popularity at the already famous "Christkindlesmarket", in Nuremberg, Germany, that it was called the "Gingerbread Capital of the World".

The first gingerbread houses were made in Germany. Children story writer, Brothers Grimm, made them famous in the very popular fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel". The story featured a gingerbread house, which was called "Hexenhäuschen", (Witch House. The story goes, ...in which two lost children came upon and nibbled on the sweet gingerbread house, the evil witch caught and imprisoned them).

Now that I've shared that little bit of culinary history and added to the copious amount of almost useless information you're used to finding here...I wonder if I could get someone out there to do me a really big favor?

Would it be asking too much for someone, ANYONE...to get me a gingerbread cookie? Man, I sure would appreciate it a lot!

Now then! What say you and I get some fresh coffee and sit at the kitchen table for a while! Too cold to sit outside in the rain, ya know?


TEAM HALL said...

Gooooooood morning Jim!! I sure wish we lived closer...I make a mean gingerbread...if I do say so myself! hehe
You're right about sitting at the kitchen table this morning...I HAVE SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Yippee!!
Have a great day!

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -

I was planning to bring gingerbread men to our family party, but now I'll even bring the finishing touches and we'll all decorate together - how's that??!! Rod & I do this for the kids at my office when we play Santa there every year - messy, but fun! I look forward to sharing this with you again....

JoJo said...

Good Morning My Special One, your information is never useless. Its fun and entertaining and sometimes very useful. I am not a big fan of ginger bread but this made it sound like so much fun to make. Maybe I'll get some of the grandkids over and have some fun.
And yes it is to cold out this morning, spent the night in the MH since my bed is piled high with kitchen stuff, they should finish the vinyl today and Friday they start the carpets. Yuck what a mess. OH the MH has heat. :)

Momlady said...

Good morning, Mr. Hermit, sir. I, too, remember the smell of fresh baked gingerbread wafting through the house. I miss it but, since I am by myself, I don't cook much. I do have to start the meringues this afternoon. I have to make a LOT of them. Peppermint and cinnamon meringues. My house smells wonderful after. But, alas, no gingerbread. Sitting at the kitchen table is very cozy and it is too cold (30)this morning to sit outside. And it's beginning to look like a snow sky. Have a peaceful day....

Anonymous said...

I've never made gingerbread. I'll have to give it a try for Christmas.

Kyddryn said...

Hmm...well, Mister Hermit, sir...it IS cookie season, after all...I suppose I could maybe figure out how to make some gingerbread cookies. I'll have to get a cookie-cutter, though - would you believe I don't have any??

I'd like to make some regular old ginger bread, too, while I'm at it. Good stuff, that!

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (thanks for the history lesson!)

HermitJim said...

Hey Cath...
Snow? Man, that's good, if you like it! So you make a good gingerbread, huh? That's good to know!

I sure wish we could get some going through the mail...but the postman probably would eat it!

Thanks for the visit today, girl!

Hey Sis...
Now THAT sounds like fun to me! I haven't had the joy of decorating cookies in a long time!

I'll be looking orward to it!

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey JoJo...
At least you have a warm place to spend the night, right? I know you'll be glad to get the new floor in!

I'll bet the grandkids would love to decorate some gingerbread men! It's fun...!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by!

Hey MomLady...
I can almost smell those smells now! Nothing like it, when the house has the lingering smell of fresh goodies baking!

It's always fun to see what memories the smells will awaken, isn't it?

I need to come up there sometime to share in the fresh baked goodies! It would be orth the trip!

Hey, thanks for the visit today!

Hey Kris...
Now that surprises me! I figured that you, of all people, would be a gingerbread baker...!

Why don't you bake some and I'll come and taste test it for ya?

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey K...
You can do it, dear lady! With all your culinary talent, I have complete faith in you and your cookie making ability!

That would be something the EG would probably enjoy as well!

You know I appreciate the visit today!

Rae said...

Yummy. I like gingerbread men too. It just isn't Christmas without them. Nice memories. Glad you shared. I didn't know its history. That is interesting.

HermitJim said...

Hey Rae...
Nothing says "holidays" like some fresh, hot gingerbread men! I have to admit, though, I like regular ol' gingerbread straight from the oven...with butter spread all over it! Hot coffee or hot chocolate on the side...YUM!

Man, seems like all my best memories of the holidays are related to food! Guess that's not a bad thing, though!

Hey, thanks for coming by...Rae!

TEAM HALL said...

Okay! Send me your address, big guy.

DianeLynn said...

Thank you for the mini history of the gingerbread man. It is amazing what you can learn by reading blogs.
mmm gonna have to take a bite out of that man *giggle*

HermitJim said...

Hey Diane...
I'll just bet you would, too! You're right about being able to learn a lot of things by reading some of the blogs!

Hey Girl...I sure am glad you could come by!

Anonymous said...

I am wearing nothing but ginger bread. lol just kidding