Since it’s Christmas and all, my son decided to make gingerbread men. This is a new step for our household, where gingerbread belongs in that territory occupied by Halloween, Hans Christian Andersen and Hannah Montana. That is to say, it’s familiar from the global cultural ether – storybooks, TV, store displays – but without so far having found expression in any personal appropriation of specific gingerbread-related practices.
Until now. So, he looked up a recipe on joyofbaking.com, and I went off to Pantry Magic in Thonglor to buy an appropriately-shaped cutter.
I feel a lot better about my children adopting gingerbread as a Christmas tradition, rather than (say) Halloween parties that include knocking on the doors of near-strangers to request sweeties. I know it’s done in the US, but, around downtown condominiums in Bangkok?
For me, gingerbread has the charm of olde worlde festivities, Christmas-card snow, and childhood innocence. (“You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” So charming, no?)
I can relate to Nigella Lawson’s explanation, in How To Eat, of why her book includes jam tarts: “..which I can’t remember ever having at home when I was a child, but am drawn to for the same sentimental reason my own children are: it evokes not the real but the super-real; the world of picture books and nursery rhymes. So you could say that we have a literary taste for them.”
There you have it – the super-real takes form in our kitchen at Christmas. And, hmmm. From a Christian point of view, that’s symbolic.
They were also delicious.
The recipe is here: http://www.joyofbaking.com/GingerbreadMen.html – and we did riff on the theme a little. Those cashew nut smiles? My idea.
Those split cashews placed end-to-end for a horrified expression? His idea.