Gingerbread Essay

1025 Words 4 Pages
During the Christmas season, gingerbread has become a traditional holiday dessert that comes in many forms; however, gingerbread was not created in response to Christmas celebrations. Instead, gingerbread became popular due to its medicinal ingredients and its social connotations. Medieval gingerbread consisted of ginger, honey, and breadcrumbs, which created a high calorie dish that would become the holiday classic society knows today. Ginger originated in Southeast Asia where it was popular for its bitter taste (Habeb 53). Ginger became so important to Chinese cuisine that The Analects mentions, “He [Confucius] did not go without ginger in eating.” In the thirteenth century, ginger became one of the first spices to be introduced to Europe …show more content…
In 1977, a collection of figurines was found in the Sun Temple of Ne-Woser-Re, which supports beekeeping in ancient Egypt. According to Allsop and Brand, “The first figure kneels beside a stack of clay hives and appears to be blowing smoke into them to calm the bees. The five other figures are busy pouring and possibly straining honey from the hives into vessels of varying size, and finally sealing the jars” (Allsop and Brand 514). The Egyptians became so proficient in this practice that they were able to utilize its sweetness in different dishes. One of these dishes included spiced bread, which is probably the progenitor to gingerbread. Years later, honey was imported to England, where the English would begin to perfect the craft. Due to the high price of sugar, honey was the main ingredient used to sweeten dishes in Europe in the Middle Ages. In 1350, honey cost about 7 pence per gallon. Honey was cheaper than sugar, which was thirty times the cost of honey (Allsop &Brand 519). Along with its low price and availability, honey also was believed to have health benefits. In the Tacuina Santitatis, medieval medical handbook, it mentions “It cleanses the chest and the stomach; it purges the abdomen; it keeps the humours of the flesh and the mouth from decaying. It heats the blood and is suited to those with cold, moist temperaments, to the elderly” (Scully 52). As a result, the combination of the honey and …show more content…
Wheat could only grow in good soil, which was owned by the wealthy lords. Therefore, white bread made from wheat was considered bread for wealthy landowners. On the other hand, lower classed ate bread that contained rye flour (Black 9). Along with eating the bread plain, medieval cooks would use breadcrumbs as ingredients in other dishes. According to Terence Scully, “For ordinary pottages that were to be relatively thick, as opposed to being of a runny consistency, the cook habitually reached for breadcrumbs or toast, starch, egg yolks, or roasted liver” (Scully 116). Hence, breadcrumbs were common in medieval European cooking, especially when making a thicker dish. The breadcrumbs tend to make a type of food paste that could be eaten as porridge or hardened to make a soft cookie. Due to making these dishes thicker, breadcrumbs also allowed the dishes to be easily sliced into pieces (Black 11). Due to gingerbread’s medicinal qualities, a person needed to be able to cut the paste into smaller pieces as to limit the dose ingested. Also, breadcrumbs are useful in gingerbread because they diluted the strong taste of the ginger and

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