Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holiday Baking (part 1 - by Margaret Ullrich)

The weather has finally turned.

Time to start thinking about the holidays.

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned, there are 2 questions no one should ever ask a woman.  The first is "How old are you?"  

The second is "Have you done your holiday baking?"  

Holiday baking has been with us an awfully long time.  Did you know that ginger was popular in Greece 5,000 years ago?  The Egyptians were eating gingerbread when the great pyramid of Cheops was new.  
I wonder what their gingerbread men looked like. 

Holiday baking can be a problem for immigrants.  My parents and I arrived in America in 1950.  Christmas had been a religious celebration in Malta.  Our traditional desserts were simple - cookies, fruit and custard.  For the holidays, we had cassata: the custard was spread on a sponge cake.  

If my Sicilian cousins were visiting, Pop picked up some cannoli to keep the peace.  Maltese cookies are dull.  The big thrill with an anise biscotti was seeing how much milk it could suck up before breaking in half and falling into your glass of milk.  It was like eating the sinking Titanic.  

I knew my German classmates ended their meals with more oomph.  At church and school gatherings, their mothers brought the most delicious homemade cookies I'd ever tasted.  And they were gorgeous.  The cookies, I mean.  Since Ma wasn't in the race - she brought the coffee - I was free to sample and praise every cookie.  The mothers beamed.  My friends thought I was nuttier than the cookies.

part 2

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