I grew up in a small town — population somewhere around 13,000. About a half mile from the avocado green and white sided duplex where I grew up, there was a cream brick building — just open the door and the smell told you you’d gone to heaven. Metal script attached to the building’s exterior read: Jerry’s Bakery
To get there from my house, you had to cross the West Twin River draw bridge. Occasionally you’d wait to cross while the bell dinged and the red lights flashed.
We always got our bread from Jerry’s. They always delivered fresh, even slices— loaves slid into thin plastic bags — twist tied with paper covered wires. Sometimes my dad would buy rye with caraway seeds, but I refused to eat it, so he’d always get a loaf of our usual — soft, fresh, dreamy, white bread — yum! If I happened to be along when dad stopped at Jerry’s, I’d always get a peanut square. If you don’t know what that is, keep reading — they’re delicious!
The baker makes a light, fluffy yellow cake, piles one slice on top of another with a layer of white icing in between, covers the entire square with vanilla-spiked, whipped butter, and powdered sugar (aka — frosting) and rolls the whole thing in chopped, salted peanuts. Oh my, my! What I wouldn’t do for a peanut square, right now!
Every sandwich, piece of toast, and bread and egg hamburger (you don’t want to know — one of those things families did to bump up the quantity of meat) was made with Jerry’s white bread. The bakery of my childhood left an impression on all of my senses — especially taste and smell.
So is it any wonder that when I moved away from my small town that I missed Jerry’s white bread? That when I grocery shopped in different cities I looked for the bread that came closest to what I remembered?
Do you remember anything like that from your past?
Bread? Dog Breeds? Blue Jean Brands? Music? People?
We’ve all got a lot of that stuff buried in our unconscious minds.
If you think about how our brains work, you’ll recognize how I came to love Jerry’s white bread. You’ll understand why I longed for that simple comfort food in unfamiliar places. You’ll not be surprised that for years after leaving home, when a bread basket was placed on a restaurant table, I skipped over the whole grain, pumpernickel and rye.
I’m a comfort seeking being who loves familiarity. You, too?Some of us are lucky enough to have events, experiences or people spark curiosity in us, lighting our way to new choices. How many of our habits stem from the past? What can we try that’s new?
For me, maybe it started with bread — a slice of rustic five grain.
Or, maybe it was trying Chinese food at Toy’s in the big city.
Maybe it was my multi-cultural experiences in Chicago when I started my first job.
Perhaps I didn’t get really curious until I became a mother and wanted my kid to have and know more than I did.
Was it starting a company? That was xSeedingly adventurous for me — learning failure isn’t lethal.
What I’m certain of is this — — pieces started clicking together when I began writing stories. Now I’m curious about everything.
New and different expands our lives exponentially.
I never felt white bread was superior to any other bread variety— I was simply biased towards it from my past experiences. I think a lot of people are like that, don’t you?
Even Mikey — who hated everything — tried Life and liked it!
You probably won’t love every loaf or roll you try. Bread can be crusty, chewy, dry, moist, savory, spicy or sweet. You’re never quite sure you’ll like it until you give it a taste and even then, I recommend going beyond your first impression. Sometimes the right condiments or side dishes can make a big difference.
It’s okay if there are some breads you decide not to eat. Set ’em aside for now — we’re not meant to like everything.
The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety. ~W. Somerset Maugham
When I don’t like something, I try to keep it to myself. I’d hate to discourage someone from trying a bread they might love.
I couldn’t find a video of Jerry, so here’s Calumet Bakery in Chicago:
Anybody got a peanut square?