Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Short History of Gingerbread

What a strange and delicious thing.

Inspired by an afternoon of creating ninja ballet dancing and zombie rabbit eating gingerbread, I thought that this delightful substance needed further exploration and a higher profile by demonstrating its versatility and tasty prowess.

As an eating experience it has it's origins in the grand old time of Mesopotamia where it was believed to having healing properties. Following this, twas brought to Europe in the 10th Century by an Armenian Monk, Gregory of Nicopolis.

He taught its secrets to French priests and Christians and the medicinal myth was perpetuated as it was introduced to Sweden by German immigrants in the 14th Century and some Swedish nuns used it to ease indigestion.

The first imported gingerbread man was credited to our great HRH Queen Elizabeth I, who bestowed important guests with charming G-Bread likenesses of themselves.

However, the first record and honour of G-Bread being made in the UK is held by...Market Drayton where it was made in 1793 (by Roland Lateward). I love the fact that it proudly displays its heritage on its welcome sign.

It's even been referenced by ole Billy Shakes, so if it's good enough for him, then it's good enough for me. From Love’s Labours Lost:
"And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread."

After the Grimm Brothers' tale of Hansel and Gretel described a house "made of bread," with a roof of cake and windows of barley, German bakeries began offering elaborate gingerbread houses with icing snow on the roofs.

It is from this moment on that not only the edibility of this wonderful creation opened up, but the fact that you could make, decorate and embellish this wonderful substance into things like this video game inspired ginger bread biscuits.

I think a trip to Market Drayton could well be on the cards.

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