Grandma has always been such an inventive and interesting person. She made various decorations, sewed beautiful creations, cooked unusual dishes, and most of all baked cakes that were widely known.
On the other hand, she was sometimes grumpy and melancholy, so as if out of spite, she did not want to share her secrets with anyone.
It wasn't God knows what secrets, her world was really small. They meant a lot to her. Who then were we to oppose it.
Grandma has always lived in her little world and waited for something to happen someday. In the meantime, she wasted no time, so she did what made her happy and brought it to perfection.
Now while for who knows how many times I try to make at least similar gingerbreads, as she did.
One of her biggest secrets was gingerbread, which she baked sometimes, mostly for Christmas.
Even now, after so many years, I can smell cinnamon and honey, but also something else that I have never been able to fathom. I’m not really sure if it’s just the ingredients, there was certainly something that only she knew and didn’t want to share with us.
Or the secret ingredient is in her love and devotion. Who knows.
What I inherited is her perseverance. I don’t want to give up even after all these failed attempts. Maybe I want to give her some more credit this way.
To pay homage to her efforts to raise children and send them into the world she once longed for.
If she wasn't lucky already, she thought at least they would know how. And they really went, so many of them, generation after generation. Just as it should be.
And we all brought a fraction of her and her personality and skills.
Apart from the village where people lived according to certain rules and norms, grandfather was not a mitigating circumstance. He cheated and drank. That, just drank, in bulk.
They say it is such a custom in our country, but no one says how to live that way. One whole life limited to a house, a yard and a garden.
To the children who will leave, and you will be left with all those accumulated longings and your unhappy life.
Unfortunately, she was not the only one, such is life in the countryside. Just like that, shorn and cruel. Maybe that’s why she left so young, and I still remember that sadness in her eyes.
Sadness and silenced desires. Swallowed tears and a high head.
It's okay, she would always talk. That's how it should be, so she just shook his head and went to another room, just so no one could see.
I don’t want to think about it, because that’s not all she was. She was gentle and dedicated to children, and especially grandchildren. She would leave everything and come when we needed her.
Because of all that, I keep trying. One day the gingerbread will be just the way she put it on the table for Christmas. And not only them, but also so many other delicious and unusual dishes for which only she knew the recipe.
I don't have her talent for the kitchen, though. My cakes still go that way, but I can't find any meaning in cooking. And not only that, my brother sometimes tells me I’m a woman from hell. Which mostly refers to the notion of a housewife who I’m certainly not.
Despite that, today I will still try for who knows how many times. Gingerbreads.
It’s even such a sweet word. But not too sweet, just like real grandma's gingerbreads.
Once again I try to bring back a picture of my grandmother making them on Christmas Eve. Flour, honey, fat, cinnamon, sugar…
I remember beating sugar in the old avan the way it was done before all the wonders of the technique we use today were invented.
I remember sifting the flour through an old worn shine to make it smooth and pliable.
I remember the fat my grandfather melted in the old-fashioned way in their large backyard and the eggs laid by the chickens walking around.
I remember the honey he was throwing in his own apiary. In which he sometimes knew how to sleep in the summer while the bees were doing their job and none of them ever stung him.
The only thing my grandmother bought at the local store was cinnamon… and I remember… there was something else… cloves… that I was missing.
The cloves that I still use today to cook wine this winter. And those cloves were supposed to crumble in some little copper pot.
Maybe I don't have all that anymore, and with that the taste that I can hardly reconstruct has disappeared, but when I stumble, nothing is difficult for me.
So I take out everything I need and get started.
The mixture doesn’t look like grandma yet, but if I put it in the fridge it might shape into what it should be after a couple of hours.
The house already smells like old memories and Christmas.
At the roar of the children around the table and the straw someone had brought. They would play around the Christmas tree all evening and roll on the straw, which miraculously disappeared in the morning, because Grandma got up early and took care of everything.
Christmas was and remains a family holiday of any kind anyway. And we were one of the big ones. All the better if an uninvited guest came. He was also given warmth and attention. Every day, and especially on Christmas.
When I take out the gingerbreads, I let them stand. That's how she worked. Somewhere in a cold room. And I seem to have succeeded this time. It may not be the same as hers, it may be hard or not exactly the same color, but it doesn’t matter if all the memories of some good old days come back to me… just like madeleine cookies from some other story.