|Worth fighting for . . .|
In the Stringam household of eighty years ago, all food was prepared from scratch.
Processed or instant foods simply didn't exist.
Nothing came packaged from the store.
Bread was something that emerged, nearly every day, from the large oven.
No other option was possible.
No other option was needed.
Grandma's crusty, fresh bread, hot from the oven, was the favourite food of my Dad's family of nine brothers and sisters and their home was nearly always awash in the wonderful smell.
But each large, beautiful loaf only had two ends.
Because bad manners hadn't been invented yet, it never occurred to Dad and his siblings that they could do anything about that.
Side note: My husband and his brothers, the creators of bad manners, would cut off every available surface – sides, top, bottom – after the ends had been claimed.
But I digress . . .
So, as the time drew nearer for the family to assemble for the evening meal, Grandma Stringam would slice one entire loaf of fresh, warm bread.
And place it neatly on a platter to go to the table.
That was about the time that every child in the house would suddenly appear.
And wrestle each other for the privilege of 'helping'.
The only time in the history of the world that that would happen.
Moving on . . .
Carefully, the winner would carry the precious platter of warm deliciousness to the table and park it in the centre.
Then he would quickly snatch one of the two crusty ends and set it on his own plate.
At first, this 'claim' was all that was needed.
But not for long.
Finally, the sacred placing of the bread on an individual's plate wasn't sufficient as a deterrent because as soon as the bread was placed and the claimer gone, someone else would creep in and slide said crusty slice of yumminess to their own plate.
Then the next person would do the same.
And the next.
This would go on until everyone assembled for the actual meal.
Whoever possessed it at that time . . . won.
Sort of like a game of 'hot potato', but better.
As time went by, more and more sneakiness was required.
The bread was placed under the plate.
Under the napkin.
Stabbed with the owner's fork.
The owner's knife.
Finally, in full view of whoever happened to be waiting in the wings for their turn, the possessor would stick out his (or her) tongue and lick the back of the hotly contested piece of bread.
Okay, remember what I said about manners?
Then place the now-thoroughly-claimed prize on their plate.
The entire contest came to a screeching halt.
But only for a while . . .