Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All kinds of bread, and an excuse to eat butter...

I'm not Jewish, but I like Passover because I like matzos, and I like matzos because they are mankind's excuse to eat butter.  Of course, you can always slather butter on a bagel, but a bagel has so many more calories, and why waste them on the bagel when it's really all about the butter? You can't just eat a stick of butter by itself...  unless of course you are a teenage boy trying to impress people with your daring behavior, like the boy in my friend's high school class who, during a bagel breakfast party, asked for and received a dare to "eat this whole stick of butter."  He ate stick of butter alright, and promptly threw up shortly afterward.  Butter is best savored in smaller quantities... 

When I was a very little girl, I lived in an apartment in the upstairs of my grandparents' house.  I used to go downstairs and visit my Polish grandparents often and ask my grandmother to make me "butter bread."  "Butter bread" may sound exotic, but it's really just untoasted Wonder Bread with butter slathered on top.  I'm sure this treat was my grandmother's idea. "Do you want some Butter Bread?" she had probably asked me one day, thinking if she toasted it, it would be too crunchy for my delicate little-kid chewing abilities.  It became a favorite of mine at my grandparents' house, but I only ate it for a short time, due to my mother being grossed out and saying, "Iewww - that's not such a good thing for you to eat!" and worrying about me establishing bad eating habits.  With good cause, no doubt, since my Polish grandmother routinely polished off an cans of salty, oily Planters Peanuts while while watching television in the afternoon. Still, I want to credit her with my love of buttered bread….

So maybe it doesn't have to be regular bread, if you're desperate, you could dip your pretzels in butter, and they'll taste pretty good, but people will think you're nuts, and your daughter might even tell you, "Mom, if you keep putting all that butter on your pretzels, don't complain when you step on the scale tomorrow morning…"  Don't you hate it when they're right?

My Italian grandmother made the best bread in the world.   It's official name was Grandma's Bread, but I think people outside of my family call it pannetone.  For those of you who've never tasted it, it's comfort and love in bread form, a dessert masquerading as mere yellow-toned toast.  It's got currents and bits of this and that in it and my grandmother's would peel apart in a swirl of layers when you bit it - probably due to the way her Kitchenaid mixer kneaded the dough.  It's been over twenty years since I've tasted the official Grandma's Bread, but I can still see it, smell it and taste it in my mind... Here's how you enjoy a slice of Grandma's bread:  After arriving home after Sunday dinner at her house, break open the bag of fresh bread, pop two slices in the toaster oven while you heat water and prep your cup of tea, then, when your Grandma's Bread has been toasted to the perfect light-brown-at-the-edges color, slather it in butter, further yellowing it's already yellow color.  YUM.  Maybe in this one case, the butter was an excuse to eat the bread instead of the other way around. 

Now, sadly, I no longer have my grandmas, but I do have Matzos and my love of butter.  Someone's grandma must have fed them matzos as a child.  I'm sure there are wonderful matzo memories out there…. matzos slathered in butter. Mmmmmm I want to hear about them!  Or other buttery bread stories.  And if your grandma is still around give her a hug, and share some buttered bread with her - be it leavened, or unleavened.  

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