Gingerbread house contest spruces up old German custom

By Colleen Keane
Special to the Times

ALBUQUERQUE, Jan. 2, 2014

Text size: A A A

(Special to the Times – Colleen Keane)

Janna Chavez’s replication of a pueblo community placed first in the adult category of All Indian Pueblo Center’s 5th annual Gingerbread House Contest.

A ladder made of pretzels leans against a peanut butter adobe-style wall. Smoke made of cotton candy billows out of a sugary stovepipe, while miniature figures of mothers and children crafted from sugar and water are gathered around a fire roasting marshmallows. Fondant-coated horses lean out of corrals as dogs play in yards and fish jump in ponds.

"They're gingerbread houses with a Native American twist," said Kathy Russell of Albuquerque as she gazed in amazement at the 24 candy-coated traditional structures that included teepees and kivas.

The scrumptious-looking houses were on display at the All Indian Pueblo Center in Albuquerque as part of the center's 5th annual Gingerbread House Contest that began in late November.

"They are so detailed and creative," said Janet Poolay of Albuquerque as she examined how the houses and decorations were made.

"Look at this!" she said pointing to caramel candies melted in the middle that made them look like luminaries.

Tazbah McCullah, the AIPC marketing director, said that the contest had two categories – one for adults and one for children ages 8 to 12.

McCullah pointed out that anyone from any community were able to enter as long as they are not a professional baker. The rules for design: reflect Pueblo architecture and lifestyle.

The theme of pueblo lifestyle can also include other tribes and cultures, McCullah noted. She gave an example of a winning entry last year that depicted a scene of a Navajo hogan and sheep grazing on one side of the river and a pueblo community on the other.

"It depicts coexistence. If you have grown up in New Mexico, Navajos are up the road from the pueblos. So you know they have always had interaction - marriage, trade, or disputes," she said.

McCullah said that historical information is needed to be competitive in the contest.

"You have to know a little bit about the architecture," she said as she pointed to a photo of last year's winning entry depicting a multi-sided one room hogan facing east and a Pueblo multi-storied structure with no doors and a ladder leading in.

How to get The Times:

Back to top ^