At three-years-old there’s a certain someone who has begun to take the arrival of December very seriously. As parents, therefore, it seems we must as well. Yet since only one of us comes from a land that fully embraced Christmas — at least once upon a time — it has become incumbent upon him to creative direct the proceedings. Fortunately, the other parent is an enthusiastic convert to the festive season. Especially now that she’s seen just how magic certain traditions can become when you have a small but significant believer in your life. So this year, we are trying to make it more of an event than ever before. And after a certain someone arrived home disappointed to miss out on the cookery class the other day it seemed like a good idea to kick the season off with a new tradition, the tradition of baking Gingerbread men … people … persons.
But before Chef Sof’s adventures in baking could begin, we had to source our ingredients. For instance, nutmeg in Turkish? Apparently it’s muskat or küçük hindistan cevizi. Know what hindistan cevizi is? Coconut … omit the küçük and you’re presented with a distinctly different nut, which isn’t a nut at all. Then there’s good old-fashioned blackstrap molasses … or rather, there isn’t. Fortunately some consultation and multi-lingual cross-referencing revealed üzüm pekmezi (grape molasses) would do just fine. So after a couple of trips here and there we had everything we needed. In fact, we had rather more than we needed as a quick check of the cupboards would have revealed, because there, unopened, and labeled boldly in English was a very fine shaker of ground nutmeg. Let’s just say some unseasonable language was heard.
Anyway, Martha Stewart, if you’re reading this, don’t fear. You won’t have any competition from the Welbournes of Istanbul anytime soon. Great fun was had. And while some of us like our gingerbread persons just fine, others seem to prefer the candy-coated chocolate buttons that adorn them a little bit more. We didn’t even get around to the icing. Maybe next time.