Sep 4, 2010

a roasted chicken with a side of acorn squash

It was 36 hours that I ate like a modern-day Paleolithic human being before it began to mess with me.

The problem is that, unlike my hunter-gatherer counterparts, I already know about things like legumes, dairy, grain, and nightshade.

About things like bread and cheese.

About things like staying put and going nowhere and the magic of microwave pop-corn.

And I mean it literally when I say that I love bread.

I will admit that I didn't know how much bread meant to me until these one and a half days.

I knew where grain, dairy and legumes fit in my life, yes. But I had no idea what such meant to me in the scheme of things.

Then, quite innocently, Tom made a pizza.

This while I made myself some broccoli with steak.
I used crushed white, black and red pepper as an impromptu dry rub and there were herbs involved. And lemon. And love.

And I had zero problems.

But then twenty minutes past, and the whole world began to smell like cheese. Several kinds of cheese melting as though from high atop a fiery mountain, then sliding down some crazy, food related volcano somewhere right beneath my nose.

All of these cheeses melting at different rates per their wildly varying (yet genius as a mixture) types. Such variables as (for instance) how long the cheese had been aged, its softness, its dryness, or its mildness vs. its sharpness - all now coming into play.

I just kept getting up and walking into the kitchen then wondering why I was there.

And then the baking of the crust made itself known. And smelled as though I had been removed to that ancient bakery that exists (no matter what) in my heart of hearts. That ancestral oven. You know the one. Brick. Rock. Clay. It doesn't matter. Bread was baking. Alongside the stew. Alongside the meat. Alongside the mash.

And, as a wholesome entity, that every-thing's-going-to-be-okay aroma, it can't be broken down. Not, at least, for this Post-Paleolithic person.

No, I was home.

The home situated deep in the snow-drifted Steppes of my mind. Bread (pizza) was baking in the oven. Right here. Right now.



Bread being the staff of life. Bread being the very reason we are so weak and fat. Bread being everything good and bad all rolled into one (the history of it being first a wonderful story about feeding the starving masses, then, not an hour later, about epidemic obesity in America).

It's the hearth. The kitchen. Where the old stories were told. It's the little stone villa with wine and song and the music of a stringed instrument going late into the night somewhere deep in a snow hushed hamlet, where, somehow, a light still burns (where, somehow, a loaf of bread still bakes) despite these cold, unforgiving centuries.

Yes, the harsh weather came blowing in. Yes, they worried about so many things. But was there not laughter? Was there not a sense of the ridiculous? Was there not love?

And, even if there was no money left, and all the crops had died, was there not still a little bit of bread?

This baking bread was, after all, what people who held down the home force were surrounded by all day long.

And it smelled so good.

It was a sign to those who ventured out that they were again, back home.

I cite the modern-day Pilsbury commercial: Everyone has their eyes on the oven. Something magical is occurring. It's hearts, home, full tummies.

No bread was the bosom of existence. The thing that kept people sane and returning. The goal was to venture out, yes, but to then get back home. Not to be sheltered, not to be safe, not to procreate, but to eat bread.

(if not a nest of angel hair pasta, a side of basmati rice or one perfectly roasted ear of corn)

Even, and perhaps especially, when those that had ventured out had been away at sea for years.

Why else would a loaf of bread and a fish (cooked simply in a pan with lemon and butter and a few sprigs of dill) be ubiquitous as a coming together? One that, though elementary (just add wine), can take on near religious properties for the bread and fish eater?

loaves and fish

This the part of my Lutheran schooling that always sounded so delectably savory.

So, was it a pizza (of all things) in all of its bread-y, cheese-y, nightshade-y goodness, that turned my world upside down last night?

Oh, yes. It was.


  1. You know we went out of town for the holiday and were completely disconnected.
    Not even a phone.
    Talk about habit and need.
    And BREAD...I've started making my own(cheese may be next)and it is so good, so...everything-a deep satisfaction on so many levels, indeed many of them just barely post primeval.
    The "main" food of any culture is both it's rise and downfall.
    The cultivation and eventual dependence on one sure thing could be the hope or ruin of any of us. I say "could" as Life itself is a gamble and you just never know what the other guy is holding.

    Soooo....what's for dinner?

  2. Bread.

    And, making your own cheese? Do tell!

    wv = gaming