Exam week in Zaragoza – which should mean studying, but instead means multitudes of productive procrastination! For example, on Tuesday, due to a strange review schedule, I only had one class. My Spanish exam was the following day. Rather than go home and “hincar los codos” (hit the elbows, or “study”), Cynthia and I went to the travel agency around to corner to book some bus tickets to Valencia, where we are going from January 2nd to the 5th. After filling out all the forms for independent travel and emailing them to my parents, I headed home to make gingerbread and cream wafer dough.
Of course I had to stop to purchase some ingredients at the grocery store a few minutes from my house: flour, sugar, butter, and chocolate. I also stopped at the specialty foods store only a little out of the way to buy molasses. A bottle which contains barely enough for half a batch of gingerbread is a ridiculous 5,50 euros, but having gingerbread for Christmas (and introducing it to my host mother, her parents, and her friends) is totally worth it.
After the cookie doughs were plastic-wrapped and in the refrigerator, I decided to spend the repose time to prepare lunch. Cynthia would arrive at 2, and I began chopping onions, peppers, and garlic for pasta sauce. My host mother randomly has a bag of TVP, so I learned how to use it and created a great tomato-based sauce. Since we didn’t have any pasta open, I put some rice on to boil. Generous doses of oregano, basil, and parsley and the meal was complete!
After eating, we took out the cream wafer dough and my host mother’s rolling pin and began with much enthusiasm, myself inspired by happy memories of my grandmother’s cream wafers and Cynthia going on faith. We used bottle caps to cut the tiny circles, and set up an assembly line: one of us cut, the other dipped in sugar and placed on my improvised cookie tray. Since my host mother has only one tray, which is actually an old metal oven rack, I covered the other rack, which is a wire one, with aluminum foil to create a flat and solid surface.
We ended up with a huge backed-up pile of little sugared disks, but luckily the cream wafers only bake for a few minutes. Although we were exhausted from cutting out what seemed like millions of tiny cream circles, we pulled out the gingerbread dough and a heart cookie cutter and began again.
The gingerbread came out wonderfully and filled the house with a wonderful nostalgic smell. I mixed up a bit of powdered sugar and water and we went to decorating. Since Cynthia is a great artist, we ended up with some rather creative and beautiful cookies.
Still evading my Spanish workbook, I packed up my laptop and headed to the fair-trade café a couple minutes away from my house, to skype with my parents and drink a hot cup of chai.
To further avoid studying, I packed and wrapped about ten little packages of cookies as Christmas gifts.
However, I’d reached the end of my list of tasks to productively procrastinate, and pulled out the list of colloquial phrases we needed to know, and finally began to work.