Bread. The word can mean money. "Have you got any bread?" We use the term to ask a friend if they have the money to buy something. But the word usually means that food made of dough, born of grain - a staple of human existence since the beginning of civilization.
Bread comes in all kinds of shapes, colors and grains. Some bread is multigrain. That's how I like mine. I buy a twelve grain bread that is full of fiber and all sorts of good stuff. You can see the seeds in its fabric and its crust. I can thank my son for educating me about the right kind of bread a person should eat, if it's good food for the body one wants. I used to eat only plain, white bread. That's what I was raised on. Turns out that doesn't have the same fiber and nutrients my high fiber, multigrain bread has.
When I first started eating this brown bread, it took some getting used to the difference. I did get used to it. Now I never eat white bread unless I'm eating rolls or something on a bun at a restaurant or fast food establishment. Score one for good health.
We call our bread "loaves." We say "I have to pick up a loaf of bread." It has a fairly standard form caused by dough being cooked in a pan which is shaped like a rectangle.
The two pieces of bread on either end of a loaf we call "the heel." Those two pieces are distinct, because they have crust on one side. That tends to make that slice of bread dry. For that reason, they are not favored by many. Count me among those who will put off eating the heels until the very last of the loaf. They just don't make a sandwich the way I like a sandwich made. But a heel can be a very tasty piece of toast. Oven cooked toast is the best way to eat a heel, because you can put butter on it and cook it up with those familiar sun spots of churned excellence. Another option that works for me is using a heel in an open face sandwich made from something semi-liquid, like chili. That's good eating!
The piece of bread right next to the heel can be kind of dry and dense. I usually try to avoid eating those until next to last. It sounds silly, but when I open a fresh loaf of bread, I want a big fat piece from beyond the heel and that one piece next to it. When push comes to shove, though, I'll make a sandwich with that piece of bread next to the heel. Until then, I'm reaching past it to the next "full" piece of bread. The late, great comedian George Carlin had a wonderful routine about that very practice. "Forget that piece," he'd say emphatically. "I'm reaching past it to get the good bread. Let my family eat that piece of bread!"
I can't talk about bread without talking about some of its mention in Bible stories and old church songs. "This do in remembrance of me," is a quote from Jesus, when instructing his apostles at the Last Supper to break bread. They didn't cut it like we do. They tore it or broke it, some bread being hard, not soft. They ate unleavened bread. It lacked yeast, which makes bread softer and causes it to rise. "A little leaven leavens the whole loaf," the Good Book told us in Paul's letter to the church in Galatia. "Bread of heaven, feed me 'til I want no more" are lyrics from an old church song titled "Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah."
Whether literally or figuratively, bread is the substance of life across the world, across the millennia.
© 2013, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org