Monday, December 19, 2011

A Gingerbread "House"

It's almost Christmas and while celebrating this holiday is a growing trend here, it still isn't EVERYWHERE like it is at home, and until just a few days ago it didn't really feel like the Christmas season at all. Two things changed that: a Secret Santa we had at work on Friday, where I baked and baked and baked because I knew the person whose name I got would like that better than anything I could buy him, and the Mega Project that my friend Jacqui and I took upon ourselves on Sunday. What started with us making a simple Christmasy gingerbread house morphed into us making a gingerbread mausoleum.

Why, you ask, would anyone want to make a gingerbread mausoleum? Well, you may have heard of Hồ Chí Minh , the iconic former North Vietnamese leader and revolutionary, known in Hanoi simply as "Uncle Hồ". Uncle Hồ was known for leading a very simple life and living as just one of the people, and in his will he asked that he be cremated and have his ashes scattered in the mountains. Instead, poor Uncle Hồ's body has been preserved and a mausoleum was built to house it, where anyone and everyone can parade by to see him and pay their respects.

When it came time for Jacqui and I to plan our gingerbread house, we decided that a typical house wouldn't do, and we wanted to do something Vietnamese. The mausoleum seemed perfect! While it's not technically a house, in a way Hồ Chí Minh still "lives" there, so why not?

We took our time, made elaborate plans, measurements, and blueprints, researched and discussed ideas and recipes, and shopped for ingredients and the necessary accessories for hours. I rushed home from a cooking class (more about that in a future post) to mix up the dough so it would have ample time to chill, and on the big day Jacqui had to make a speedy recovery from food poisoning in order to come help!

At first I had difficulty rolling out the dough, as it's something I have not done for a long time and I'd forgotten how frustrating it can be! However, I soon got the hang of it and with the help of some rather gluey icing I think it came together quite nicely!

Just the beginning....
Yummy gingerbread!

Careful measurements were made according to the blueprints.


We had to make it realistic, so we put Hồ actually inside the mausoleum, with a stocking and a Christmas tree.

These are some of the key ingredients, including the gummies that I carved into the shape of people (we needed soldiers to guard the mausoleum) 

Jacqui cutting sour gummy worms into reins.

Gluing the last pieces on...
Adding the finishing touches...
The final product! We think it's probably the first ever gingerbread mausoleum ever made.


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