image from hallswellsuper16.com.
The Litany of Leavening
“There are people in the world so hungry that God
cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Bread is my bitch,
my staple, &
my bane--for eons ago my love handles
became a gut loaf, & I must turn a deaf ear
to the haranguing data that informs me of its
harmful properties, for
giving up bread for me is the equivalency for others
of giving up smoking, alcohol, weed, chocolate, or hard drugs,
making it my major addiction.
I remember clearly the first time
I met a person who was gluton-intolerant, OMG,
my sadness was overwhelming for them,
their depravation constituted tragedy,
they might as well have had diabetes, cancer, or leprosy.
How many people know
that Otto Rohwedder is the father
of sliced bread, that in 1912
he invented a machine that sliced bread,
& for those folks who felt this was a negative act
since bread tended to go stale faster after sliced, in 1928
he invented a bread wrapping machine,
making him kind of the Linus Pauling of bread history.
Part of the initiation of adulthood
was to gain a appreciation for unleavened breads,
after it became hip to eat the Mexican tortilla,
Middle Eastern pita,
Indian naan, chapati, or roti,
or God help me the Native American fry bread
dripping in cinnamon & butter; which is a bit confusing
because I don’t know if the flour they use is leavened or not.
Bread scholars proudly point out
that as far back as Neolithic times
bread initiated a turning point in history,
offering agriculture as a viable alternative
to the hunting/gathering options, allowing larger
populations to congregate, & I find it
ironic that man moved from loving fermented
fruit buzzes to the fermentation of grains to make alcohol,
& simultaneously discovered that bread could be,
should be leavened;
& further irony is infused because of
the Medieval notion that the rich felt
that white bread was their dominion,
leaving the dark grained breads for the poor,
& as you know, these days the dark grained breads
grace the wealthy tables, & white bread
is the fodder of the less privileged.
My mother was a master baker,
& once a week was her Baking Day.
As a family we would all rush home
to greet that perfectly timed last loaf
as it came out of the oven. The smells
of flour, yeast, & baking bread, rival
the overwhelming smell of frying bacon
as one of my favorite sense memories,
constituting what a real Home once meant,
Mom would place the hot loaf
in the center of the table
on one of her beautiful wooden bread boards,
surrounded it with a pound of real butter
& several homemade jams & jellies.
We would tear off huge steaming pieces,
slather it with soft butter & sweet jam,
& sit together as a family breaking bread
laughing, smiling, chewing,
making butter/jelly mustaches,
talking with our mouthes full,
devouring the entire loaf in mere minutes,
in a frenzy, ravenous as starving dogs,
the smells, tastes, & fellowship
mesmerizing & sustaining us.
Now that my mother is gone,
& only the memories of her Baking Day remain,
oh what I wouldn’t give
to come home just one more time
to perform the perfect Ritual of the Hot Loaf.
Posted over on dVerse Poets Poetics
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