Okay, I awoke to the dictionary.com word of the day, panivorous, subsisting on bread. My mouth began instantly to water, triggered into imagining a crusty chunk of sourdough dripping with olive oil. I again began to salivate at the hint of a French baguette, better yet with chocolate bits scattered throughout it. Oh, and a buttery croissant needs nothing but a little heat to enhance its tear-apart, eat-it-plain texture….
Enough reverie. One cannot forget the fragrance of home-baked bread. Wait a minute, I’ve gone right back to bread reminiscing.
My daughter has been asking for my cardamom bread, since Christmas. I really must dig my bread machine out of its semi-permanent ensconcement in the back of a bottom kitchen cupboard.
Those of us who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, and/or have a pesky genetic history of diabetes are warned away from the delectable enticements of bread. Have you ever seen white bread turned to paste? It’s my novel theory that bread turns not just to sugar throughout the process of digestion, but to heavy, thick, drywall-type plaster pasted to my interior walls, adding heft to what would surely otherwise be my featherweight visage.
We’re instructed by the Bible, not to live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4) even though it is also referred to as the “bread of life” (John 6). So, bread of life represents spiritual food. The counsel to not live by bread alone suggests we need more than the simple necessities to sustain life. We need mental, spiritual, and aesthetic nourishment, to give life meaning.
“The need of the immaterial is the most deeply rooted of all needs. One must have bread; but before bread, one must have the ideal.” – Victor Hugo
Back in the sixties, bread meant money. “Do you have any bread, man?” We all have to have it, to survive.
I came of age in the early 70s, listening to the inventors of soft rock, Bread, the band. Amusingly, they named their band while stuck in traffic behind a Wonder bread truck. Isn’t Wonder bread the epitome of white bread, the stuff that all the stores in rural Pennsylvania run out of when there’s a winter storm on the horizon?
The lyrics of Bread songs take me back quite literally to a time of teenage innocence when it was apropos to be in love with love. It’s a scary feeling of vulnerability, though. Even now, in the reverie of recollection, I’m on edge and jittery.
It seems like a growing segment of today’s young, up-and-coming women (Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez comes to mind) seem to be fueled by a different kind of not so innocent love, but rather, a lust for power. They’re achieving this power strangely through victim-hood, having been wronged, angered and hellbent on turning the tables for themselves via a kind of revenge-porn.
Could it be that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez represents not just her constituents in Bronx (and a bit of Queens), New York, but a body of the young who are bottom-line seeking love and appreciation, through power? As Mother Teresa once said, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
However, power is addictive, so I’m told. Once this segment of society’s revenge antics has a smidgen of success, the power they feel, maybe for the first time, sets off an addictive chain of events that is self-fulfilling. Now, in a position of power, they perpetuate a policy of victim-hood as the route to success.
Back to some reminiscing about past history, “I like bread and butter. I like toast and jam…” – Jay Turnbow, Larry Parks, writers; The Newbeats 1964. My husband and I met and befriended Jay Turnbow and his then, lovely wife, Linda, while working and living in New Mexico. They took care of our yellow tabby-cat, Simba when we ventured back East to visit family. Jay was a “bread and butter,” kind of guy, so his lyrics were simple and genuine.
In the mid-fifties when I was born, “bread-winning,” and “this job is our bread and butter,” were common sayings about work and sustenance, making money or “making a living.” Those were “crust of the earth” times, simpler in many ways.
These monikers were coined with bread as the centerpiece because bread has been seen as a food staple, if not a general term for food, for many humans throughout history. Bread and butter were the absolute basics, after which one could buy more and live above the level of sustenance.
I have to admit I am among the old, in 2020. That’s difficult to say because I don’t feel old. I think I’ve “kept up,” pretty well with the times. But the fact is I’m not young nor “up and coming.”
I still like bread. The basics, for me are enough. The things I live and breathe are God as my foundation, my husband as my partner, my beloved family and friends, my work, my home, and travel. These are the things that fuel my existence.
Many Americans in 2020 want more. I worry that the fuel for not a few of today’s ambitious youngsters, is well beyond the basics of “time, love, and tenderness,” (Michael Bolton, writer Diane Warren 1991) but victimization, anger, and rebellion. The cultural extremes to which we have turned seem to have been spawned by a generation with many a pissed-off victim, railing at the wind with one complaint after another.
I can’t help but think of Robert De Niro’s character in Ronan who, when asked if he had ever killed anyone, replied: “I hurt someone’s feelings once.” It seems like the progress we’ve made from our olden days, to these days, is mostly the bread of strife, hurt feelings, and offense, which has tenuously been equated with murder. If you offend someone through disagreement or misunderstanding, you’re accused of murdering a chunk of their identity.
Rather than murdering one of my fellow Americans, Id much prefer murdering a piece of crusty French baguette, Middle Eastern flat bread, Native American fry bread, Greek pita, an Italian loaf of garlic bread, Chapati East African bread, or a thick, chewy bagel from our Hebrew brethren. I’m never discriminating as to my preference for bread. Let’s say we break some bread together, America.