The Art of Bread

Typically, this blog waxes eloquent on the deeper theological points of faith and the arts. But today, I thought I would just be goofy and share a story about my wife about a dozen years ago.  It is a reminder that we, as artists, should strive toward the greater art—and often, it comes with a price.

BreadLoafIn our family, this story is folklore, the kind of tale that has been retold over the dinner table over the course of more than a dozen years.  Or to paraphrase the words of Kung Fu Panda: “Legend tells of a legendary bread maker whose bread making skills were the stuff of legend…”

Day 1: My wife, Debbie, finds a book on baking bread in the bookstore.  She buys it, thinking that she’ll save the family money in the long run.  “After all,” she shares off-handedly, “after a few loaves, it should pay for itself.”

Day 4: Debbie calls up her friend and resident bread authority, Teresa, to tell her that she’s going to try to bake bread.  “I’ll bring a loaf over when I’m done,” she remarks.

Day 7: Debbie has baked her twelfth loaf of bread, and they still haven’t turned out.  Bread bricks, dark brown and heavy laden, line the kitchen counter top.  Our two young boys, Eric and Justin, have been watching Disney videos for three straight days now, and are beginning to wonder why Mommy won’t come out of the kitchen.

Day 12: I walk in the door at the end of the day, remarking, “Another door stopper, honey?”  I am greeted with a cold, silent stare from Debbie, who is in the kitchen, the telltale signs of wheat flour on her blouse.  I notice that the boys have been wearing the same clothes for three days.

Day 17: Debbie calls me in tears.  “I’ve tried everything,” she explains.  “I need a bread making machine.”  I try to console her, but she is late.  “I have to go to Teresa’s to watch her bake bread.  Don’t wait up for us tonight…”

Day 23: Debbie has resorted to bribing our sons with toys from the drugstore to get them to try samples of her bread.  I have begun contemplating building an outdoor barbecue pit with the leftovers.  The house is a shambles, and cobwebs are beginning to collect on the ceiling.

Day 24: Debbie calls me at work and announces proudly, “I got my bread to rise!”  Unfortunately, she cannot remember what she did differently to make it so.  I am now seriously considering seeking professional intervention.

Day 26: As I drive into the garage, I notice that the mile high pile of clothes on the washing machine has disappeared.  Two adorable clean children greet me at the door.  As I enter the house, it is obvious that the hallway is vacuumed and the kitchen is clean.   “What’s for dinner?” I ask hesitantly.  “Chili,” Debbie responds coyly.  “And some homemade bread.”


2 thoughts on “The Art of Bread

  1. I remember that story. Oh wait, I lived that story…and my bread cookbook has a page with a corner bitten off to show for it. I always smile when I come across Deb’s words next to that missing piece. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

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