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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Bread Run

Even though we tend to dismiss bread as little more than the frame within which we display our artfully assembled sandwiches, or a lowly tool with which to sop up the stray dribbles gravy at the end of a good meal, going without the stuff for a full week is a potent reminder of why it is referred to as 'the staff of life'. 

There is something so vitally important about bread that the mere smell of it baking can turn a house into a home... and the smallest taste of it can turn an odd assortment of unrelated foodstuffs into a meal.

Over the past few years I have started a tradition surrounding bread.  The moment the Passover holiday is finished, I leave Zahava and the kids to 'turn over' the kitchen to the year-round dishes and utensils, and I make the 'bread run' to Jerusalem  (there are no bakeries in our town that open right after the holiday). 

Once there, I wait on line at one of the bakeries with an appreciative crowd of like-minded people while the bakery staff turns out the first batch of hot baguettes and rolls, and load up the car with enough bread for our family... as well as some extra to drop off with friends in our neighborhood.

The ride home is always a challenge since the big load of fresh warm bread tends to fog up the windows, and the intoxicating smell of yeasty goodness is enough to set my stomach rumbling.

At the check-point I pass on the way home I always hand over a couple of warm baguettes to the surprised soldiers, and I watch with delight in my rear view mirror as they tuck into their first post-Pesach bread.

Once back in Efrat, I make the rounds of a few close friends' houses, and hand over more of the warm bread. 

Finally, when I get home, Zahava and the kids take the last of the bread from me and we settle in with butter, cheese and assorted spreads to enjoy a pleasant reminder of why this simple staple, in all of its variations, is so vital and central to our very existence.

We call Matzoh - the unleavened Passover cracker - 'the bread of affliction'.  But the truth is, with a little butter and jam it's actually pretty good.   Which is why I'm convinced that without that first post-Pesach bread run, we wouldn't sufficiently appreciate the hardship our ancestors in Egypt took upon themselves.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as we did.

Posted by David Bogner on April 6, 2010 | Permalink

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I must confess to loving Matzo, and enjoy it as a delicious treat all year round.

And let's face it, the Bread of Affliction was probably more like Pitta or Flat Bread than the cracker (Eng. Water Biscuit) we have today.

Anyhoo, we're looking forward to something soft and delicious and hopefully with Smoked Salmon (no cream cheese for me) later on this evening.

Posted by: chairwoman | Apr 6, 2010 1:38:10 PM

Of course you write a story like this when I'm trying to give up the stuff (or is that staff) for a diet... I suppose I could (try to) envision that you're speaking on whole wheat heart goodness, and not the soft, white... doh!

Thanks!

Posted by: Jethro | Apr 6, 2010 2:22:18 PM

I for one can't thank you enough, Santa Claus. We had just finished "switching over" when you came down the chimney and we immediately sat down to a feast. (It was the first bread I had eaten in 18 months, since I began my no-bread-except-challah-on-shabbat diet; I just couldn't resist.) I'll get you back.

Posted by: Ben Chorin | Apr 6, 2010 4:31:35 PM

There is no finer smell than freshly made bread, and now my tummy is rumbling at the thought of a carload full of the stuff. Sigh, I'll never be slim!

Posted by: Noa | Apr 6, 2010 9:55:31 PM

Yeah, bread is good, but that first post-Pesach bottle of Porter is even better... :)

Posted by: Tzipporah | Apr 7, 2010 12:00:10 AM

I remember how my uncle a"h used to run out to the bagel store right after Pesach and wait for the first batch of hot bagels and bialies to be baked. Oh, they were so delicious...

Posted by: Raizy | Apr 7, 2010 6:23:42 AM

To be honest, I've never understood the mad race to get bread and other chametz the second pesach is over. I like bread well enough, but I can easily go several days without noticing its absence, so I don't get all the fuss about a whole week. As for matza, I wouldn't want it to replace bread altogether, but for one week a year it's a treat!

Posted by: Alisha | Apr 8, 2010 8:00:15 AM

Ah, so that's why there was no bread in Yerushalayim the day after...

Posted by: Nachum | Apr 8, 2010 9:55:21 AM

Thank you!!

Posted by: Noa | Apr 8, 2010 9:14:51 PM

Heh. My friend Houston Steve calls me "the Bard of Affliction."

I'm perfectly fine doing without chametz for the eight days of Diaspora Pesach... but when that sun goes down on the eighth day, I am more than ready to eat leavened or just plain grainy products in all their variety. Bread, pasta, whatever. And did we forget whisky?

Posted by: Elisson | Apr 8, 2010 11:53:10 PM

I actually learned how to make matzoh morrocan cigars this year. Now, if that isn't cool... ;)

Posted by: a. | Apr 9, 2010 9:05:36 PM

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