We’ve been back in California for a week now. I’ve done some things I didn’t do for the last three months we were in Italy. For one, I barbecued hamburgers on the grill. Turkey for Martha, beef for me. Sure, I could have done this in Italy. But, it isn’t done so I didn’t. It’s an American thing. So I fired up the grill on our California back porch.

Martha bought the buns. Some buns! I tried cutting through them. They collapsed. Gently I drew the serrated knife, sawing as if I were performing surgery on somebody I wanted to live, plumping the buns to keep them “inflated” as I slowly drew the knife through.

I had already noticed that the buns had no substance; they were almost lighter than air. I thought if I didn’t have a good grip on them, they’d end up plastered to the ceiling.

My head is now filled with fantasies about the corporate bakery these buns came from. I’m imagining a board meeting. There are scientists in white lab coats and the corporate schmucks in thousand dollar suits. They are discussing how the cellular wall of the bread has been miraculously thinned out so that more air can be contained inside. We’re not talking the usual scientific measure of “half an RCH”. Nope, thinner. Much thinner. Impossibly thin. The suits like that. The shareholders will like that. “We’re happy to report that we can get 2 million buns from a pound of flour with our advanced technology” will be repeated at the shareholder meeting and there will be lots of clapping.

I miss real bread for all. I miss Italy. There are no suits controlling the bread in Italy. Well, maybe some bread is controlled by suits. But in the little villages there’s bread. Real bread. Real bakeries.

(Yes, I know I can go to Whole foods and get a loaf of flavorful real bread for $5! I do! But I can also get real bread in Italy, pane al forno, for a tiny fraction of the price. I can buy it by weight. As much as I want. “Gimme half of that piece” I can say, although in Italian. Why does American bread cost so much when someone has the big idea of actually putting wheat in it? Why do we need corporations to stuff more air in our bread? It’s one of the great mysteries of our time.)

Bread originally appeared on , updated: Jan 07, 2010 © .

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