April, 2009 – Bread Winner

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AS I WAS SAYING

by Alan Williamson

 

Bread Winner

 

 

 

 

“Bread is dead,” the headline screamed. The shock of it caused me toAlan Williamson cough violently, launching a chunk of partially-chewed Pepperidge Farm Honey Wheat on a short and tragic flight to the floor below.
There must be some mistake, I thought, my mind desperately searching for a logical explanation to reports of a loaf-less world. Life without bread would be unthinkable, unbearable, not to mention hard-to-swallow. The room started to feel small and stuffy as my fingers fumbled with the paper, searching for better news on another page. “Bread Sales Grow Stale,” read a second bombshell headline. “Anti-Carb Crusade Buries Bread,” declared another obituary-style story. The devastating news hit me in the face like a Chicago hard roll in a hurricane. The demise of bread was a crummy prospect indeed. Take away bread and, in my view, you risk the collapse of civilization itself. Remove bread from the equation and you usher in an irreversible breakdown of the very fiber of existence. And for what? The chance to lose 15 pounds in six weeks so you can gain 30 six months later? People of Planet Earth, I implore you. Is this how you want it all to end – not with a bun, but a whimper? My life had been a journey driven and nurtured by bread, a quest enriched by bread as a daily symbol of sustenance and stability. Bread, in all its glorious varieties added to me, defined me, made me more than I would otherwise be. I lived for bread, and my life is a testimony to bread’s splendor.
Feeding Young Minds. Studies have shown that empty stomachs lead to poor concentration and a harder time learning in school. What studies have not confirmed, but what my personal experience proves without a doubt, is that getting the nutrition kids need to learn, grow and succeed every day in school is greatly enhanced by eating a seedless Kaiser roll with breakfast. I’m absolutely certain of this due to the dramatic improvement in my grades from the time my father started bringing seedless Kaisers home with the paper in the morning. Before the Kaisers, I was flunking math and scrapping by in geography. After the Kaisers, my math grades soared to solid “B’s,” and my grasp of geography impressed my teacher enough to write on my report card “Alan thinks globally, acts locally, and smells of cream cheese.”
The Battle for the Biscuit. For as far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. No cards, no gifts, just say “grace” and begin the gluttony. While my mother would awake at some absurdly early hour to prepare a feast that would make a pilgrim weep with gratitude, my two brothers and I were interested in only one thing. The biscuits. When loading our plates with food, we each left ample room for the flaky golden delicacies, begrudgingly adhering to the one-at-a-time rule my parents had established after the “Biscuit Blitzkrieg of ’81.” On that infamous Thanksgiving Day, 90 percent of the biscuits landed in two of the five mouths at the table, and the battle for the last biscuit was fierce and vindictive. I can still hear my mother say, “there, now neither of you gets it,” as she extracted it from the combined clutches of my brother Bob and I and devoured it in two lusty, unladylike bites.

A Loaf of Bread, A Jug of Wine. When I got married, my relationship with bread achieved even greater significance, as the preparation of meals took on a new prominence in my life. Conversations like the following became a daily ritual. Me: “Any thoughts on dinner tonight?”
My Wife: “How about grilled cheese?”
Me: “What kind of bread should we use?”
My Wife: “The Publix Sour Dough Plus Five grills up good.”
Me: “True. But their Country Rye is a larger loaf size and holds the melted cheese in place better.” My Wife: “What about the sauerkraut rye we used to get?
Me: “That was at Winn-Dixie, and they stopped making it. I’ve been boycotting them ever since, which explains their recent downsizing.”
My Wife: “Then just pick out what looks good to you at Publix and surprise me.
This, of course, was music to my ears, as visions of a steaming loaf of Basil Parmesan Sun-Dried Tomato Foccacia stirred my expectations for a night of hot-buttered bliss. Call me a fanatic, but for those who claim that bread’s final expiration date is here, I strongly disagree. Bread is not dead. Bread will rise again. Bread is reborn! Crust is King! Long live bread! Now are you going to back away from that last biscuit or are we going to have a problem here?

Alan Williamson is an award-winning writer with 27 years in the field of true fiction (advertising). A practical man who knows that writing for a living is risky going, he has taken steps to pursue a second, more stable career as a leggy super model. Alan can be reached at alwilly@bellsouth.net.