Others might write about chocolate or wine or cheese. I will write about bread.
I'm sitting in my butterscotch-chair-that-twirls
looking at the painting Seret did just for us.
SIR convinced Little Cuter that un-refrigerated butter does not lead to gastrointestinal distress; she's still alive after sharing a kitchen with him for several years, so I decided to believe him, too. Two or three tablespoons of unsalted butter, unused during dinner, greeted me at breakfast from the counter not the refrigerator. And sitting right above it, on the too-high-to-be-useful-to-me serving island, was that bag of challah.
Every Friday night, for as long as I lived with my parents, we ate challah before we ate anything else. Daddoooo read (because even after 60 or 70 years he couldn't recite it without getting confused) the prayer of thanks for God's work in bringing bread from the earth, and, for a brief and blessed moment, there was silence in my house.
No talking, no eating, just watching as he cut the poppy seed topped, soft, rounded crust and released the smell. It's like nothing else I inhale. It's dense and rich and yolky, sometimes with a hint of cinnamon or honey, delicious right from the knife, no accessorizing required. That was a good thing, since butter is a dairy product and couldn't be on the same table as the pot roast or london broil or roasted chicken, they being of the meat persuasion.
The challah was cut into small bites so that the bickering could begin as quickly as possible; it was hear or be heard around our dinner table. While G'ma cleared the table (with children assisting, of course.... we were raised right, as she never fails to remind me) and brought in the next course, there was more challah and more kvetching.... complaining that falls just inside the oh-dear-Lord-please-put-a-sock-in-it line... as slices were too thin or bigger than hers or withheld for an infraction.
Five Star bakery in Lincoln Shopping Center was where the bread originated. Other bakers had been tried and found wanting; the clerks behind the counter knew me, knew my family, knew my order as I walked in the door. That was part of the aroma, too.
It was a small bakery and everything was made by hand, in the back of the store. Today, in Tucson, I've yet to find a bakery like it. My grandmother would tell me that it was the water which separated a New York rye bread or pastrami or pickle from one made anywhere else. Perhaps that's the reason that I can ignore the challah sitting on my counter instead of devouring it in one sitting.
It just doesn't taste that good. It's too light. The texture is too airy. There's not enough spring in the insides and the outside is crumbly instead of taut. If I am being conscious of every bite I put into my mouth as I attempt to rediscover the slimmer, post-perforation me, I'm not going to waste the calories on a wanna be.
I need the real thing.