CABB’s Winter

Challenge, 2022

DECEMBER HOLIDAYS

DECEMBER 12 ~ GINGERBREAD HOUSE DAY

Gingerbread House Day

by Nelly

December 2000.

In the City of New York. Far below the city streets.

William was particularly nervous.

Christmas was coming and he, as the official chef and baker, was the most important person of the World Below.

He had to prepare many delicacies, above all sweets to make young and old happy.

But that year, who knows why, he had no ideas.

He did research in cookbooks, he asked children to go and search in books at the libraries of the World Above, but nothing, no inspiration.

One cold night, after having cleaned the kitchen, he went to bed sick and tired.

He had a strange dream: he dreamt about a gingerbread man saying, “Help me, William, I’m desperate! Every year I’m prepared for Christmas and used as a decoration or sweet snack, but nobody thinks of me as a little man. I need to be loved!”

Meanwhile, many people appeared and ran behind the gingerbread man and he, not having a safe refuge, surrendered to those people and was grabbed and eaten!

William gasped and suddenly woke up. On second thought… here is the idea! Thank you, gingerbread man, I’ll help you!

The next morning William woke up early to prepare breakfast for the World Below.

Children entered the kitchen, starved, and asked, “William, as Christmas is coming, would you prepare some yummy gingerbread men for breakfast or a snack?”.

William answered sharply,“No, kids, I’m sorry. This year everything will be different.”

The children looked at him astonished, knowing that William loved that scented Christmas cookie very much.

After breakfast, William requested an audience of all the World Below’s people so he could make an important and urgent communication. Father put the Great Hall at William’s disposal.

The meeting started in the afternoon. Everyone was very curious. Nobody would have thought that William had such an important communication to make, requiring the presence of all the community, young and old.

Flushed and excited, William started his speech, “Good afternoon, everyone and thank you for being here. As always, I’m handling the Christmas menu, decorations, and Christmas boxes for our helpers in the World Above. Well, this year I had a special idea to help a special friend. Can’t tell you more at the moment, but you will understand later. I’ve decided to organize a cooking competition! Yes, you have heard correctly: a cooking competition, to be more precise a baking competition.”

“There will be 4 teams – composed of two adults and a child – that will have to prepare…. A gingerbread house! A beautiful, colored, scented and cozy house where the gingerbread man can spend a special Christmas with us. Are you with me?”

Everybody looked at him with a surprised but fond gaze and, after a while, Father, Vincent, Catherine, Jacob, and all the others stood up and shared a huge approving applause. What an imaginative idea, William!!!

After a deep evaluation, the four teams were created as follows:

THE ROSE TEAM – made up of Vincent, Catherine and Jacob

THE TEA TEAM – made up of Father, Mary and Samantha

THE INVENTOR TEAM – made up of Mouse, Lena and Cathy

THE PIPING TEAM – made up of Pascal, Jamie and Kipper

Of course, any other community member, young and old, could have helped by ideas and manual skills.

The competition day was December 12 in the Great Hall.

Teams started the preparation by studying the recipes, tailoring them to their own imaginations.

Of course, nobody had cooking experience (except for Catherine after her adventure with Wavey   ), but there was no particular stress; everybody wanted only to have fun.

Mr. Long, one of the helpers of the World Above, had kindly supplied the participants with all the ingredients needed, following the four TOP SECRET Teams’ lists.

Each Team was gathered in its headquarters, and William, as a good Captain, got in there to check everything was OK and offer his precious advice. He was really pleased and a little bit impressed because the Teams were demonstrating willingness and talent. He laughed loudly seeing Vincent, Father, and other two “old men” full of flour, sugar paste, colors, and food glue all over their hair and body… the community leaders seemed… sweeter! AHAHAHAHAH

Children were super excited and gave a hand to their friends, seizing the opportunity to snack on cookies that were badly baked…

There was absolute confidentiality, and the atmosphere became increasingly mysterious. Which tricks would Teams have come up with to keep the gingerbread houses up? Which Teams found innovative recipes? And, above, all…Who would win? Bets are opened!

And the Judgment Day came!

The Great Hall was ready, the audience was there.

William sat on Father’s armchair – what an honor! – as he was the Great Judge.

Teams had their worktables with the respective symbols on and put aprons and chef’s hats on: No one could have imagined such a humorous scene!

William said, “Welcome to the GINGERBREAD HOUSE DAY Competition! I declare the competition officially opened. You have four hours to prepare, cook, assemble,and decorate the most beautiful gingerbread house of all. Ready????? GO!!!!!”.

The four Teams started immediately crossing each other and risking absurd accidents, but at the end…. “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. STOOOOOOP”.

All the Teams lifted their hands up after having put the houses on the cake stands.

William started calling the Teams to judge their work.

“Rose Team, come on!” Vincent took the cake stand and approached William with Catherine and Jacob.

“Well, tell me about your house.”

Jacob said, “Our house is made of chocolate gingerbread assembled with white chocolate frosting and decorated with Smarties.”

“Very good, Rose Team. The house is strong, and the ingredients seem scented and tasty. Go back to your place and leave the house here.”

The Rose Team thanked him and went back to its workplace, giving high fives.

“Tea Team, come on!” Mary took the cake stand and approached William with Father and Samantha.

“Well, tell me about your house.”

Samantha said, “Our house is made of matcha tea gingerbread assembled with honey gelatin and decorated with fruit jellies.”

“Very good, Tea Team. The house is strong, and the ingredients seem scented and tasty. Go back to your place and leave the house here.”

The Tea Team thanked him and went back to its worktable.

“Inventor Team, come on!” Mouse took the cake stand and approached William with Lena and Cathy.

“Well, tell me about your house.”

Cathy said, “Our house is made of nut gingerbread assembled with sugar paste and decorated with colored sugar tails.”

“Very good, Inventor Team. Tthe house is strong, and the ingredients seem scented and tasty. Go back to your place and leave the house here.”

The Inventor Team thanked him and went back to its workplace.

“Piping Team, come on!” Pascal took the cake stand and approached William with Jamie and Kipper.

“Well, tell me about your house.”

Kipper said, “Our house is made of classic gingerbread assembled with a mix of marmalade and honey and decorated with chocolate drops in three colors.”

“Very good, Piping Team. The house is strong, and the ingredients seem scented and tasty. Go back to your place and leave the house here.”

The Piping Team thanked him and went to its working place.

Strange thing! William said the same words of judgment to everyone… who was the winner?

Suddenly William stood up and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome our special guest: THE GINGERBREAD MAN!”

The gingerbread man, dressed-up for the party, was welcomed by gasps of surprise and huge applause and, embarrassed, said, “Hello, everyone! You’ve made me happy: I’ve never had a house and a family. Tonight, I have four houses, one better than the other! And if you want me to stay, I’ll have a family, too!”

Of course, the answer was unanimous: “WELCOME TO OUR WORLD!”.

The gingerbread man waved his arms towards the four houses and, magically, each house became stronger, and the gingerbread man felt finally safe.

William was touched by his friend’s happiness but, above all, by his community’s typical solidarity. He was sure they would have never disappointed him!

“Thanks, everyone! And now, an amazing snack is waiting for you in the kitchen! Cookies of all shapes and flavors but… this time not gingerbread ones…”

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