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The Long His­tory of Ginger­bread

PS Magazine - - POP CULTURE, NEWS, AND EVENTS FROM PAST DECADES -

Food his­to­ri­ans have traced the first known recipe for ginger­bread all the way back to Greece in 2400 BC. By the late Mid­dle Ages, the hard cook­ies were a sta­ple at me­dieval fairs and fes­ti­vals in Eng­land, France, Hol­land, and Ger­many. Queen El­iz­a­beth I is cred­ited with the idea of dec­o­rat­ing the cook­ies—she or­dered some made to re­sem­ble the dig­ni­taries vis­it­ing her court. Ginger­bread houses orig­i­nated in 16th cen­tury Ger­many and were pop­u­lar­ized in the Brothers Grimm tale of “Hansel and Gre­tel.” In colo­nial New Eng­land, the cook­ies were of­ten cut into pa­tri­otic shapes like the Amer­i­can ea­gle. There is even a well-pre­served recipe by Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s mother, Mary Ball Wash­ing­ton, which was served to the Mar­quis de Lafayette and there­after known as Lafayette Ginger­bread. To­day, ginger­bread houses and cook­ies are a beloved Amer­i­can tra­di­tion dur­ing the hol­i­days.

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