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A new vendor answers 20 Questions

One of our new vendors this past week, Jindra Maskova, was also interviewed in The Telegram in the 20 Questions feature. Below is the introduction but you can click here to read the complete article.

Come January, Jindra Maskova will have spent 11 years in Newfoundland and Labrador. Originally from the Czech Republic, Maskova may be familiar to visitors to the St. John’s Farmers’ Market, where her European gingerbread treats have appeared this fall. She is also a visual artist, painter, mushroom hunter, gardener, and she works building dental implants and is mother to three children.

On her love for fresh mushrooms, she suggests there may be a growing number of people in the province with an interest in local finds. She has occasionally encountered other mushroom hunters while out on the trails with her husband, Vlascimil Masek, who is also from the Czech Republic.

“There are some which are a little bit different from Europe, so we don’t pick them, but most of them are same. Some of them you don’t have them here, some of the types we like in Czech,” she said, noting family excursions to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have helped her discover a few more varieties.

At her home in St. John’s, her painting is a favourite creative escape.

“I used to do oil, before kids. Now I feel like it must dry quickly,” she laughed, “so mostly watercolour.”

As the holidays approach, by popular demand she has taken to passing off her paint brush for the challenge of decorating gingerbread.

“American gingerbread is a lot of fat and molasses. We use only honey and just very little fat. So it’s kind of different,” she said of her European recipe.

The brownish colour of her gingerbread typically comes from cocoa powder, she explains. An egg wash, icing and a light dusting of sugar brings out colour contrast and a decorative sparkle.

“I did it for many years for my friends and they all loved it, and they just spread it to friends, from friends to friends,” she said.

The same friends and family encouraged her to try producing for orders and the weekend farmers’ market.

Her cookie designs are inspired by magazines sent to her by her mother, from her home country, where great gingerbread is about the look sometimes as much as the taste. The Czech people produce some of the most time-intensive structures and detailed decorating patterns.

“Every city has a big nativity scene and some of them are gingerbread ones,” Maskova said, pointing to a picture of just such a nativity in one of her magazines.

She said the gingerbread she ate as a child was less of a craft, but welcomed all the same.

Having lived in Sweden for a time before coming to Canada, Maskova and her family maintain some of the Czech holiday traditions aside from gingerbread — including the lighting of candles through Advent and the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day.

She acknowledged Newfoundland and Labrador is far from the Czech Republic in more ways than one. Her home country is landlocked, with more freshwater carp produced than saltwater cod. The country is a key producer of hops. Its capital city, Prague, is home to about 1.3 million people — more than twice the total population of Maskova’s new home province.

Despite the differences, life is good here, she said.

“We like it. I don’t like the wind, that’s the only thing.”

Read Jindra’s answers to the 20 questions by clicking here.

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