History of Food

History of Food

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5 - Gingerbread Day

At last I don't have to make a choice what to write about or try to cover more than one topic in this post.  Today is Gingerbread Day.

What do you know about Gingerbread?  Surprisingly enough there is more history to Gingerbread than just using the Gingerbread cookie for Gingerbread houses.

In researching the history I found a rich history, that like many foods - it has a melting pot history. 

History of Gingerbread:
Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by the Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis (Gregory Makar) (Grégoire de Nicopolis). He left Nicopolis Pompeii, to live in Bondaroy (France), near the town of Pithiviers. He stayed there 7 years, and taught the Gingerbread cooking to French priests and Christians. He died in 999. 

During the 13th century, it was brought to Sweden by German immigrants. Early references from the Vadstena Abbey show how the Swedish nuns were baking gingerbread to ease indigestion in 1444. It was the custom to bake white biscuits and paint them as window decorations.

The first documented trade of gingerbread biscuits dates to the 16th century, where they were sold in monasteries, pharmacies and town square farmers' markets. One hundred years later the town of Market Drayton in Shropshire, UK became known for its gingerbread, as is proudly displayed on their town's welcome sign. The first recorded mention of gingerbread being baked in the town dates back to 1793; however, it was probably made earlier, as ginger was stocked in high street businesses from the 1640s. Gingerbread became widely available in the 18th century.

There are variations of Gingerbread all over the world ranging from the Middle East to various areas in Europe, South America, and United. States.

Etymology of the word Gingerbread:
Originally, the term gingerbread (from Latin zingiber via Old French gingebras) referred to preserved ginger. It then referred to a confection made with honey and spices. Gingerbread is often used to translate the French term pain d'épices (literally "spice bread") or the German term Lebkuchen (bread of life, literally: cake of life) or Pfefferkuchen (pepperbread, literally: pepper cake). The term Lebkuchen is unspecified in the German language. It can mean Leben (life) or Laib (loaf), while the last term comes from the wide range of spices used in this product.

On a person note...I like to eat Gingerbread, I will admire Gingerbread houses...but you won't see me making a Gingerbread house - I don't have the patience.

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