A Rambling Ode to Bread*

*I get around to it eventually.

Behold my Ode to Bread, a testament to my love of bread, my worship of bread—but only the chewy kinds, the stuff requiring two incisors to gnaw off a bite and all your molars to grind, giving your jaws purpose again now that we no longer use them to rend dead animals as we did before the role of butcher was assigned to certain people, not just anyone hungry enough to take down a gazelle.

Not that I’m likely to go after a gazelle or any other mammal, as I’m not much of a meat eater, being “mostly vegetarian,” except I do eat fish, which I guess makes me a pescatarian. For sure, I never eat raw meat—that time at the Lebanese restaurant notwithstanding when I cheerily ate whatever “Try this!” was put before me because, of course, there had been a lot of “drink this!” wine served. I, being nothing if not a dedicated people pleaser, played blithely along until. UNTIL.

It pains me to even type this.

      *takes a swig*

I discovered I’d just eaten raw monkey brains.

      *spews said swig*

I still slap myself every time I recall that night, even though I didn’t kill that monkey nor would I harm any animal, not on purpose anyway, I can’t even recall an instance of road kill in all my decades of driving. unless I’ve blocked it out, which I totally would if I had. But I can imagine too well the horrors that monkey, our near kin, suffered, and then I’m dead.

But eating bread doesn’t kill anyone unless you have Celiac disease, maybe, or unless you count the rodents crushed under the monster tires of the tractor or whatever heavy equipment farmers use now to till the soil, plant and harvest the wheat, the rye, the oats, the flax and all the grains and seeds that go into a bread truly worth blowing the carb budget (as if I could ever commit to such a thing) over.

Because I once read that that we vegetarians, “mostly” or otherwise, should not be so smug about not killing animals for food because small critters, moles and voles and rabbits, are decimated when land is cleared for farming. I guess you’d have to grow all your own vegetables, by hand, to truly earn that vegetarian smugness. Except that it seems like anybody can get away with being smug these days, even if they’ve never studied or practiced the topic at hand, convinced they know more than the doctor, lawyer, soldier, scientist, or teacher, because all it takes is a Twitter account.

But back to bread which, in my world, falls into two categories of decadence: the first being the kind with the soft, white, melt-in-your-mouth center and the crunchy, flaky crust that I first fell in love with when I went to Paris on a high school trip. We had little money but munching from a warm baguette slathered with fresh creamery butter while walking down the boulevard felt so ooh la la.

The second category of bread I consider worthy must be dense through and through, so heavy that you could throw out your back when you heft it, chock full of hearty grains and seeds, the delectable kind that squirrels would swipe from your clenched hands, if they only could, and your jaws ache after gnawing a single serving. Whatever “single serving” means to you because I have no idea. It must be like “leftover wine.”

Both breads are laden with carbs, the very goodness of life itself, which my killjoy nutritionist says I should limit to a measly 30 grams per meal which is laughable when all I want is bread, bread, bread or maybe some rice, pasta, or potatoes, all topped with cheese if you please, except for…my waistline. Or lack thereof.

At least the seedy kind has some redeeming value in the form of “dietary fiber,” which nutritionists around the world exalt, while the white stuff is just “empty calories,” or so they say, but that never made sense to me because eating it always makes me feel full of happiness.

Grilled cheese, anyone?


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  © Cheryl Leutjen