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I flew into Albuquerque in December with the intent of heading straight to Santa Fe. Instead, I got sidetracked when I heard about the annual gingerbread contest at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. The gingerbread houses at this contest are anything but typical. Contest rules require that the edible constructions be inspired by a New Mexican pueblo, village, house, church or historic building.

"The event was started as a way to honor and share New Mexico's Pueblo culture," said Monique Fragua, the museum's director. The culinary masterpieces arrive from around the state, including some from the 19 pueblos represented in the center. The display included gingerbread boys and girls wrapped in colorful serapes fashioned from fruit rollups and tiny luminarias made of frosted Tootsie Rolls. Oyster crackers represented loaves of bread baked in the traditional outdoor adobe ovens called hornos, often still used by Native Americans today. In fact, don't miss the pizza baked in an authentic horno oven at the center's Pueblo Harvest Café.

The display is free and open to the public.

I also visited the state-of-the-art museum dedicated to the Pueblo people. With art, artifacts and stories, the galleries offer an in-depth look at the history and culture of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. The center also hosts special holiday events. For more information, go to

Donna Tabbert Long