The Baker

The Baker had been known for years as just that: the Baker. Some knew his name, of course, but most didn’t. He didn’t mind. Being a baker was his pride, his profession and the thing he loved most, and he was pleased to be so well known amongst the others of his trade so as to be the only man called The Baker in the whole market. He knew he was a good baker. Little girls begged their papas to buy his cinnamon rolls, boys filched their mama’s coins so as to get a raisin filled treat, youths brought their blushing young ladies to his stall for a warm apple turnover to share on wintry days, and the poor, eyes wide with hunger and bellies swollen, came to his back door for the many loaves of stale bread that he would have leftover at the end of each week. The Baker was a warm-hearted man, and always made too much bread – accidentally, of course.

He awoke every day of the week before the sun had even risen. He liked to work that early, because the mornings were cool enough so that the sweltering hot oven didn’t make him sweat too much at first as he began to heat it up for the long day. He had different assistants over the years – some stayed and some left. They all left in the end, though, to marry, to have children, to open their own stall or to change trades entirely. The Baker stayed constant, and could never envision doing aught different.

When he had been a child, he’d been rail-thin. He had been the kind of boy who had arms as thin as sticks, a belly-button that puckered out because his stomach was so flat, and ribs that seemed to almost poke out. As he grew, his thin arms developed muscle and his belly rounded a little, all while helping his uncle in kitchens of the big house they lived in. His uncle taught him to bake. Not to cook, no, the Baker never enjoyed cooking meals, but he loved working with any and all kinds of dough, and he became good at it. When his uncle died and the rich family they worked for kicked him out, he’d found work at a smith, as an assistant. It was his strong arms, muscled with constant kneading of dough, that had gotten him that job. He worked, and worked and worked some more, hating the smell of burnt metal and hot coal and the mixed, unpleasant scent of sweat-soaked leather aprons and smoke. But the Baker worked, and when he’d saved enough coin, he opened his bakery stall in the market, as far from the smithy as possible.

He stayed, and his stall grew, and his rolls and pastries and cakes became known, and he became a real baker, The Baker. He never knew aught else – for even as a servant boy and later an assistant smith, he was always thinking of the way clean flour looked on a wooden board and the way dough felt in his hands and the the way a freshly baked loaf would be just that perfect shade of golden-brown. He never knew aught else, and he would never do aught different, not if it were up to him.

Sniff

Leaning out of the window, bringing in the laundry, hands touching the cold clothing hanging in the cold air, I catch a scent. Just a whif at first, and then the smell fills my nostrils, and I breath it deeply, tears gathering in my eyes. It’s the smell of latkes, this sort of potato-patty thing – it’s a traditional thing to cook during the Jewish holiday, Hannukah, which is ending tonight. Why is it that the enticing smell of fried potatos makes my eyes water? My father used to make them every holiday time, and when I was smaller and ate an even smaller variety of foods than I eat today, I hated the smell. Today though, it makes me hungry to smell it and cry to think that my father won’t ever make it again and I’ll never get to show him that I might like his cooking for once.

It’s incredible how smell triggers the memory, isn’t it? The smallest of scents blown into your nostrils from a tiny breath of wind can remind you vividly of a sumemr’s day when you got your first kiss, of a night of partying with friends, of a person you haven’t seen for a long time or of a place you miss and long to be in. It’s amazing, in my mind, how smells can bring up memories long forgotten or ignored.

Sniff away, then, I say – you may discover some feeling or time you hardly remember.

Comfort Books

There is a particular type of book – I suppose it must be very individual for each person, but generally this type of book is either a favorite novel, well thumbed and read many times, a book from childhood with a silly story but beautiful writing, or sometimes even just a Peanuts comic-book from the sixties. These books are comfort, at least to me.
When I’m feeling horrible, or just down and sad for no reason, all I need is to pick up a book like this, tuck myself into bed, and read for a couple hours.
The yellow pages seem the most beautiful thing in the world and the crinkle as I turn them is like music to my ears. The smell – ah, the smell! I sometimes literally pause in my reading and bury my nose in the spine, sniffing up the memories of childhood, when I first read the book, or the countless bus-rides and walks to school when I read it, or even just the memory of being exactly where I’m sniffing, curled up in my bed, just a few months or years beforehand.
Some people have comfort foods – ice-cream, chocolate, warm milk. I have comfort books.

Focus Now

Alright. What could be more simple? Just look up a few websites and read a bit of info and write some of it down. Nothing could be simpler. I think I’ll just go get a cup of coffee first.

Alright, coffee is now in hand. I can start working. Ok, first site. Hmm. Yes. Interesting. Uh-huh. Oh! Phone call. Alright, phone call finished, twenty minutes lost. No biggie though. Phone call was important. Oh damn, there it goes again. Alright, another half hour down the drain – but it’s ok, I still have a few hours to work.

Just going to make a piece of toast. Can’t work on an empty stomach after all. Right? Right-ho. Munching on toast is fun. I always like to eat the crust first and then sort of take tiny bites of the actual bread and chew them. Ok, must focus again now. Must keep working well. Oh, oops, haven’t actually gotten all that much done yet… Well, on to work now.

Alright, I’ll just watch ONE episode of Battlestar Galactica, but then I WILL get back to work. Mhmm.

Doesn’t it always go like that? Focusing isn’t as simple as it seems, is it?

Cookies Are the Answer to All Woes!

Except the woe of gaining weight, of course. But they ARE the answer to anything and everything else.

I always wanted to know how to bake really well and be able to bake lots of different things. For now, though, I’m content with making the yummiest chocolate-chip cookies in the world. Yeah, you’ve got it right – the Nestle Tollhouse ones.

These mouth-salivating photos are really of the cookies I made today and are courtesy of the talented Sir. B. F. whose blog you can access by clicking the link on the right.