Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Gingerbread with Lemon Icing & Cultural Acceptance (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

Are you familiar with John H Schumann’s Theory of Acculturation? No? Well let me enlighten you.

He argued (circa 1978) that there are 4 stages of Cultural Shock when you move to a different country. I’ll simplify;

The Euphoric Stage
This is the bit when you arrive in the new country and say,
The people are so gentle and lovely and the food is gorgeous!’ (Thailand)
or, ‘Fwoorr! All the girls are tall, slim, blonde and gorgeous!’ (Sweden)
or ‘Omigod! I can buy 500 litres of wine for £3.50!’ (France).
In short, everything is lovely in the new country during the euphoric phase.

The Hostile Stage
Suddenly, you HATE the place.
Eeew! There’s a huge gob of green spit on the pavement and a rat is eating it!’ (China).
All right, so I have blonde hair and my top is a little tight, will you stop freakin’ staring at me!’
(Tunisia/Morocco/large swathes of Africa/anywhere south east of Turkey),
Just chillax Hans, so I put my glass bottle in the wrong bin, don’t have a cow’ (Germany). During this stage you might get depressed, or even aggressive towards the natives of the host country.

The Acceptance Stage
You reach an equilibrium, learning to accept the differences between the host country and your own.
What a bother. I have in my hand a ticket for a train trip to Bordeaux, but I won’t be able to use it because the SNCF has gone on strike. Oh well, it is their democratic right to strike for spurious reasons, so I shan’t complain’ (France).
Well, would you look at that! The man in the Ferrari has just shot across 3 motorway lanes and nearly killed us. Oh well, I expect he's in a rush' (Italy).
Hmm, I really wish they hadn’t just beheaded my dog and fed it to me, but the tradition of eating dog is an ancient one’ (South Korea). (No dogs left in North Korea)

The Reverse Culture Shock Stage
You get home and realise that Britain/wherever has changed since you left, and you might find it hard to fit back in.
Hmm, I didn’t realise that large parts of London are now as dangerous as Helmand province, how did that happen then?’ (Peckham, Brixton, Tower Hamlets).

I find Schumann’s theory rather interesting. If it’s to be believed, when we moved to China, I skipped the Euphoric stage and stayed anchored in the Hostile stage for the entire 3 years. I’ve lived in France a few times over the last 18 years, and although I make progress each time, I think ‘hostile’might best describe my attitude.

During this last 3 years of living in France, I have certainly been hostile to their driving every, single, crazy, Highway code-disregarding day. But driving aside, I may finally have reached the Acceptance stage. I realised this recently at my eldest daughter’s birthday party.

She wanted to go swimming with a few friends. We arrived at the pool and I asked where I could sit to watch.
Her: ‘From here in Reception’ (pool only visible through misty, bullet-proof glass)
Me: ‘But I want to sit by the side of the pool, I need to keep an eye on them’.
Her: ‘You can only do that if you’re in a swimming costume’
Me: ‘What, even if I’m just watching?’
Her: ‘Yes’.

With four girls champing at the bit and desperate to swim, I sent them off to change hoping there weren’t too many
paedophiles lurking in the changing rooms. I waited a while and then approached the woman again.

Me: ‘Can’t I go and sit outside and watch them?’ (There’s an area outside for sun loungers)
Her: ‘But to get outside you would have to walk through the pool area.’ (a distance of 20 metres from changing room
to outside area)
Me: ‘Yes, yes I would’
Her: ‘But you can’t do that because you’re not in a swimming costume. Rules must be obeyed.’

And it was then that my cultural acceptance kicked in. I knew that getting cross with the ridiculous rule would only irritate her, and I would lose. (I think a lot of latent anger still lingers about The Hundred Years War)

Me: ‘Hmm, good point, so what can I do?’
Her: (thinking hard) ‘Ok, here’s what we can do, but I’m making an exception. I’ll lend you a towel so that you can walk across the pool area.’
For one awful moment I thought she meant that I get completely naked and sit outside wrapped in a towel.
Me: (panic in my voice) 'What, take everything off?'
Her: (talking slowly to simple foreigner) 'No! All you need to do is wrap it around your clothes and walk across the pool area. Then when you get outside you can take it off’.

She was deadly serious.

So, I solemnly wrapped myself in a towel whilst fully clothed, with skirt protruding underneath and t-shirt showing above, and walked the 20 metres to the outside area. I then removed the towel and watched my daughter swim with her friends. When it was time to go, I carefully wrapped the towel around me again, walked the 20 metres back, and returned the towel to Reception whilst thanking her heartily for being so kind and making such an exception. She
smiled modestly in a sort of ‘oh you’re very welcome, but next time bring your swimming costume’ kind of a way.

18 years ago I may have strangled her. But in my new found acceptance of all quirks French, I giggled all the way home and prepared lunch, which included this Gingerbread with Lemon Icing.
If you make this gingerbread, do pause just before you eat it, and dedicate it to the irascible, passionate, impatient, marvellous, bewildering, bad drivers who are the French.
It IS worth making the effort to accept them.

Gingerbread with Lemon Icing
Some recipes are not keen on gluten free flours, no eggs and no dairy. They moan a bit and make me work hard. This recipe lay down, rolled over in complete submission and said, 'take me'. I love it when that happens. I think it's because of the Teff flour that I got from Innovative Solutions, the people there are helpful, friendly and passionate about their product. I love it when that happens too.

It can be made three different ways, egg free, dairy free, gluten free. Egg free, dairy free with wheat flour, and gluten free with eggs and dairy (or dairy free). Keep up.

All versions:
150g dairy free spread (or butter)
125g dark muscovado sugar
200g golden syrup
200g black treacle
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsps fresh ginger, grated. (freeze it beforehand, then peel it with a veg peeler and grate it frozen. Bingo)

GF with eggs:
2 eggs
300g brown Teff flour (you could try white Teff flour too, I reckon it would do the same job)
¾ xanthan gum
½ tsp gluten free baking powder
300ml of milk or rice milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tbsps of warm water

Egg free, dairy free with wheat flour
300g wheat flour
For the 'eggs':
2 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg powder
20g dairy free spread
¼ tsp xanthan gum
2 heaped tbsps ground linseeds
8 tbsps rice milk
250-350ml rice milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tbsps of warm water

GF & egg free & dairy free
300g brown Teff flour (you could try white Teff flour too, I reckon it would do the same job)
¾ xanthan gum
½ tsp gluten free baking powder
For the 'eggs':
2 heaped tsps Orgran 'no egg' egg powder
20g dairy free spread
¼ tsp xanthan gum
2 heaped tbsps ground linseeds
8 tbsps rice milk
250-350ml rice milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 tbsps of warm water

For the icing:
180g icing sugar
2-4tbsps lemon juice (maybe more)
1 tbsp warm water
  • Preheat the oven to 170° celsius Grease and line a 30x20x5cm tin (or two 17x27x3cm worked as well)
  • If making this egg free, melt the dairy free spread, then add the 'no egg' egg powder, the xanthan gum, ground linseeds and 8 tbsps of rice milk. Use a mini whisk to mix it all up and try to remove the egg powder lumps. Set aside
  • All versions: Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl. For GF versions, add the xanthan gum and whisk through gently with a mini whisk
  • In a large saucepan melt the dairy free spread (or butter), with the sugar, golden syrup, treacle, grated ginger and cinnamon
  • Take it off the heat, add the milk or rice milk, the real eggs or the no egg mixture and the bicarbonate of soda mixed with the water (it will be a sloppy mix)
  • Pour it into the tin(s) and bake for 45-1 hour(ish) until risen and firm to the touch. It remains sticky in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin
  • When cold, prepare the icing. Seive the icing sugar and add 2 tbsps of lemon juice and a splash of the water. Play it by ear, but you may need more lemon juice, a tad more water, you are after a thick icing. But don't worry if you end up with a thinner one, it will just sludge slowly down the side of the cake and you will want to kiss it
  • Spread the icing over the cake and leave it to set, then cut it into squares
  • Eat slice after slice, especially if you are still in the Hostile stage
© Pig in the Kitchen 2009


elizabethm said...

I offer you this as a reason to love the French: we were in Provence last week. Driving our hire car on an autoroute, we came off at a junction and slowed to pass an unwieldy grass cutting machine. In the UK the area would have been coned off for about a mile, truly.
I wonder if the theory works for English people living in Wales?

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

Now that is a rather bizarre rule, but I guess customs are customs. I am impressed with your acceptance. I even have trouble with it in my own country!

Elsie Button said...

that's hilarious about the towel! and v entertaining post. about to get tom to sit down and read it. loved the apron too - didn't comment on this before because i feel a bit out of the whole apron thing - as the only one i have, and have ever had, is a wedding present, which is one of those pvc tablecloth type ones with pictures of flower vases on it, given my a lovely old lady in the village. xx

Iota said...

I can't really believe that story about the towel, except I can.

Try getting an American attorney to renew a visa for you. It's a similar thing. You point out that she has mis-spelled 2 of the names of your family wrong on the application. She says "that won't matter, this is only the application". That sounds odd, but she IS the expert, so you go with it. Then the visa renewals come through and guess what, 2 of them have those mis-spelled names on them. You ask the attorney what to do, sand she says "we'll have to send them back".

I don't think that is really a parallel story, but I needed a rant, and your blog was the nearest to hand.

Rebel Mother said...

OMG! Hilarious.

That cake must have been delicious too - there is none left!


Vegetation said...

You have the most awesome life tales to tell! I love hearing them all!

And yum! Gingerbread is one of my all time favourites!! Gluten free, dairy free, egg free version will be on it's way in my kitchen soon!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Elizabethm, ah yes. Health and safety yet to make it across the channel...

Alisa, totally bizarre rule! But i will certainly remember my swimming costume next time!

Elsie B, cannot fathom the logic behind the towel!! thanks for your kind comments, and your surreal comment about your own rather marvellous apron!! (Hello Tom)

Iota, my heart goes out to you with the visa debacle. The funny thing is, we just go along with it don't we? we somehow think they know better because...well, just because! I'm honoured that my blog was within ranting proximity ;-)

Rebel Mother, ha! I couldn't make it up! Cake is fab, really gooey and squidgy, yum.

Vegetation, ah thank-you darling! The towel episode did brighten my day. Good luck with the cake!
(ooo, word verification is 'loutt', surely it doesn't mean me?)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

One hell of an entry. Great!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sweet Grumpy Old Ken, you never seem that Grumpy when you come to visit, and you always say lovely things! Thank-you.

Mya said...

I have never heard of that theory, but I can see exactly how it works. I am in the acceptance stage now, too. I can fully believe this woman's actions - for the French, rules are there to be either strictly adhered to or completely ignored - it depends on the day of the week, which side of bed they got out of that morning, whether they like the cut of your jib and the colour of your eyes. It used to bug me, now I find it quite charming, in an irritating way. Like a mad but sweet old aunt.
Mya x

Scrummy looking cake, by the way!!!

Heather said...

I've never heard of the theory before but it fits. Ex pat Brit living in Lapland and I think after 5 years I am finally at the last stage. i barely even notice the odd things anymore.
Infact it's usualy only when people come to visit that their reactions remind me that it isn't like this in the rest of the world.

Excpet those times when I've done ridiculuously embaassing things in the UK because that is how they do them whereever I have been living at the time only to get in trouble for it...a naked showering incident at the local pool springs to mind...ho hum...

Alex in Beverley said...

Hello Pig I fully subscribe to your theory and managed to achieve acceptance in a few of the countries i have lived in - what has freaked me out more is that now i'm back in the UK i'm going through each stage here!! Will let you know if i ever get to acceptance!!

Mimi said...

Oh Pig, this is so good. Had me in stitches and yet it is informative too!
And that's before you even get to the recipe. Which I might make this week, though I have to try to paint some eggs first....don't ask! (ssh, it's a Christmas decoration thing!)

Fee said...

I made this yummy gingerbread and as per usual it went down a treat. Made them into little puddings instead....cooked them in muffin trays and served with custard and cream. Didn't put the icing on but very keen to do again with. V V Yum.

'Cross the Pond said...

did you make it to Sur La Table? You'd LOVE it there. It's one of my favorite places in NYC:

willson said...

This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.

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