week fifty – childhood memory à la rahel

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when it comes to food and memories, choosing just one is almost impossible. there are the good, and the bad. come to think of it, i’ve had quite a few food traumata in my life, as anyone who knows me will be able to tell you. some, i’ve never really gotten over. like that one time during the autumn holidays in turkey, when a boy i was in a fight with (dramatic time..) threw his plate of french fries with mayonnaise at me. i couldn’t eat mayonnaise for at least five years. or that one time my mom’s cousin came to our house during advent when i was about four or five years old. the only thing i remember about that visit is that said cousin (names shall not be mentioned) ate ALL of our christmas cookies. every single one of them. (family gatherings can still be a bit awkward..)

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however, despite the traumatic experiences,  the good memories definitely outweigh the bad. funnily enough, it’s the small things i remember most, like eating fresh baguette while still at the store when we went on vacation in the south of france. or eating my mom’s homemade bread, especially the zopf she made on sundays. of course, there are some things i loved to bits when i was younger, that today i wouldn’t touch from a mile away (cue lunchables). but back to the good stuff.

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christmas cookies. could there be anything better? i’m a bit traumatized, but hell, who wouldn’t be if someone ate all of their cookies? so anyway, the cookies are by far my favorite part of christmas food (not counting mulled wine). there are about five or six different varieties that every swiss family bakes during advent: the “mailänderli” (a butter cookie with a slight hint of lemon), the “brunsli” (chocolate), the “zimtstern” (a hazelnut-based cookie with cinnamon and sugar glazing), the “vanille gipfeli” (a very crumbly, almost powdery cookie that tastes of vanilla), the “spitzbueb” (again a butter cookie, but with jam filling) and the “änis brötli” or “chräbeli” (different names for different shapes of the same dough, tastes of anise). and if there’s one thing that always gets me into the christmas mood, it’s baking christmas cookies. it’s something we always did at least once during the advent, with everyone gathered around the ktichen table, listening to cheesy christmas songs. it’s the best.

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this year, the official christmas cookie production event hasn’t taken place (yet), but my mom and i seized the opportunity to break ground with these gingerbread snowflakes. they’re simple to make, vegan and taste exactly what gingerbread cookies should taste like (the dough is really, really good, too.). the recipe is by ashlae, one of my all-time favorites. try them, it’s worth it, if only for the gorgeous smell of gingerbread that’ll be coming out of your oven.

 

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