cookie-cutter houses redefined

Oh the things that exist: the annual National Gingerbread Competition in Asheville, NC.

There are about 150 entries each year, and this prize winner's creation represents 340 hours of work and $5,000 in prize money. A cake decorator in Canada, she said, "I love art, but architecture has always been my passion," she says. "It's like building different dream houses in a way."

The only rules: Everything has to be edible, consist of at least 75 percent gingerbread and be smaller than a two-foot square box.

While there's conflicting information about the history of gingerbread, the houses trace back to the 1800s publication of the Grimm's fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel," in which a brother and sister can't stop themselves from munching on a witch's edible house. (Perhaps recreating these tiny edible houses was a way for town bakers to lure children to their window displays.) Ginger, which does not grow in Northern European climates, was too expensive to be used except on special occasions. 

From the very young to the very young at heart, the reaction to this magical experience of a Gingerbread House Competition is the same - one of wonder, awe and delight.

And others have created entire dioramas exceeding the competition's parameters:
the classic Ketten Carousel, Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water House, and Britain's House of Parliament, the Guggenheim, and the Louvre. 

Back in 2010, culinary artist Melodie Dearden decided to recreate architect Frank Lloyd Wright's famous house, Fallingwater. The artist detailed the construction of her delicious rendition on her blog, Garden Melodies. Using a lot of sheets of gingerbread, and even more frosting, Dearden was able to recreate the home, complete with a candy waterfall. It took 12 hours to design and 40 hours to put together the 164 pieces of house made from roughly 12 square feet of gingerbread dough. And six months later when it was time to throw her creation away, Dearden did what any baking chef would do: She blew the thing up.

In 2007, Chef Beate Woellstein recreated the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and the London Eye in gingerbread and candy for the Grosvenor House Hotel. You can also see miniature double decker buses, a telephone booth, and other iconic London fare strewn around the display. The whole thing weighed about 50 kilos, or 110 pounds.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, made with gingerbread, icing, cotton candy, candy wrappers, licorice, sugar.

The Louvre, Paris, made with gingerbread, hard candy, and licorice.  
via {NPR} and {mental floss} and {city lab}


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