Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bread Wars


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 oven of the large wood stove.
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.
Mmmmmm.
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 center.
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?
Forget it.
Then place the now-thoroughly-claimed prize on their plate.
The entire contest came to a screeching halt.
But only for a while . . .
Gramma and Grampa Stringam.
Oh, the bread she could bake . . .

9 comments:

  1. I didn't invent bad manners! My brothers did. I spent my entire lifetime trying to overcome them . . . .

    Diane's Anonymous Gentlemanly Husby

    ReplyDelete
  2. I I never knew until I was an adult that people actually LIKED the crusts. I guess our family was the weird ones--we only ate them if desperate. Shirley Jorstad

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you! I ate the middle. Sometimes leaving an entire loaf of crust sitting there on the cupboard.

      Delete
  3. "Creators of bad manners" - hahahaha! Love it. Plus that denial above :)

    When you grow up in a large family, you have to be quick, smart, and fearless. I know this only from observation, as I have only one sibling, and as he was an older brother, that was plenty... back on topic ... one of my uncles had a dozen kids and I remember at a wedding reception at their home, one of the youngest was caught taking a large drumstick to her room to hide "for later". That has stuck with me for years. Many, many years :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah yes. The choice bit of main entree squirrelled away for 'later'. Definitely been there done that . . . :)

      Delete
  4. Licking the bread! I am howling. I have two brothers who would have done that. To be effective, however, I'm sure it had to be done in the sight of whoever might steal the bread, but out of sight of grandma.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My husband will still lick something if he wants to ensure none of the rest of us will eat it. He grew up with two older brothers and apparently meal time was a contact sport in their house. But I never knew anyone who fought over the end pieces. I'm the only person I know who likes them.

    ReplyDelete

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