Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A treasure trove of lebkuchen

A few years ago..

Holy crap.  When did 1997 become a "few" years ago?  It feels like only recently!

Let's start again.

Waaaaay back in the '90s when I was single, carefree, and had (some) money, I spent Christmas in Europe with friends.  They took me to the markets and I adored seeing the season through another culture's eyes.  As much as I love France, Germany's Christmas seems to more fully embody what Americans envision as the perfect holiday season: nutcrackers, spiced wine, snow, trees, ice skating.

One of the things that I fell in love with was lebkuchen, a soft gingerbready sort of thing.  Only it's amazingly better.  It's chewy and sweet (but not overly so) and makes you want to cuddle by the fire.  I love them.  Every year I buy some at Cost Plus World Market and hoard them: mine!  MINE!!  I've thought about trying to make some but never so much as researched recipes.

Last year my girlfriend, Maria, ruined me.  She sent me Nurmburg lebkuchen.  Dammit.  My Cost Plus cookies are stale and flavorless in comparison to the traditionally made lebkuchen.  They were soft, fragrant, chewy, and amazing.

Now we're set to be ruined yet again. 

On Veteran's Day I was sitting in my living room when the FedEx truck stopped in front of our house.  The driver left a large box on our doorstep.  I stared at the delivery label in disbelief.  It was from Germany.  Upon learning that I love lebkuchen so much, Marius' parents decided to introduce us to a German tradition of a Schmidt chest. 

I unpacked the box with my jaw agape.  Gene was on the phone and I couldn't get his attention.  In the box was a beautiful pressed tin box.  I put it on the counter and waited for Gene to see it before I opened it.  Finally, my waving and stomping made him look over.

Inside are 13 types of Germany cookies and treats: lebkuchen (lots and lots of it!), stollen, vanilla cookies, pfeffernusse, cinnamon cookies... oh my!  There was also a perpetual calendar and some ornaments for our tree.

We're incredibly grateful, not just for this bounty of holiday treats, but for the chance to host a young man from Germany.  He's been such a fine addition to our household. 

A year ago I was expecting a son... who knew I would get two.

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