“Good Deals” in Astoria has gingerbread house ornaments. Hansel and Gretel and their gingerbread looking house excite every child. Every department store has gingerbread kits assembled and unassembled. Making a gingerbread house is a way for many to celebrate Christmas. We saw gingerbread kiosks (small open-fronted huts at the food festivals in Pushkin Square Moscow and in front of the Four Seasons Hotel at 2, Okhotny Ryad in a phenomenal tour arranged by Galina of expresstorussia.com in cooperation with intourist.com.
“Look! Gingerbread houses!” said a member of our tourist group, as we were passing Pushkin Square the last week of September. “These are the kiosks that sell food and novelties,” explained our guide Irina. “You are all lucky. It is warm. You can enjoy sightseeing.” Irina and our driver Oleg left us at Pushkin Square with subway directions back to our Novotel hotel.
A cart with supersize white pumpkins was near Alexander Pushkin’s statue. A baby grand piano with red roses and ivy plants, an orange car filled with yellow and orange foliage, gardens of marigolds, pink and white begonias made great photo shoots. The decorated kiosks with flowers and red drapes were the star attraction. Fine Russian china and figurines were available for purchase. Merchants were selling mouthwatering cookies and pastries. Cooks were frying breads and barbecuing foods in round pots over a fire. Circular sweet breads with Russian crosses were being sold. Homeless persons and gypsies were not evident to the tourist. We encountered Greek tourists and merchants from Thessaloniki. 1
Pushkinskaya Square or Pushkin Square (Russian: Пу́шкинская пло́щадь) in the Tverskoy District of central Moscow. It was historically known as Strastnaya Square, and renamed for Alexander Pushkin in 1937. It is not only one of the busiest city squares in Moscow, but also one of the busiest in the world. The former Strastnaya Square name originates from the Passion Monastery (Russian: Страстной монастырь, Strastnoy Monastery), which was demolished in the 1930s.2
The second Food Festival in Red Square in front of the Four Seasons Hotel and the red brick building of the State History Museum was unbelievable. The kiosks looked las if they were straight out of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales. The weather was pleasant. Vendors were cooking vegetables and foods in front of consumers. Russian crafts, breads, desserts, croissants, sandwiches, vegetable, pork and beef filled breads were offered by merchants with a big smile. The “Feast of the Tsars” was long wooden tables with ornate tablecloth, swans roasted pigs, turkeys, fruits and vegetables filling the Square. It looked like a medieval banquet from “Masterpiece Theater” Carts of large pumpkins and squash were great tourist stops. Delicious Amaretto cookies were sold to us by a pleasant merchant. Displays of supersize art works on easels were created using artificial fruits. Both Food festivals gave us an insight into the emerging merchant class. The gingerbread looking kiosks made our Moscow shopping memorable.