Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sliced Bread: Not Just a Cute Metaphor

In the interest of doing more writing, I now present, for your reading pleasure, the first of many articles about the little things in Kazakhstan. I hope you find it stimulating and enlightening.

Sliced Bread: Not Just a Cute Metaphor

Americans who have never lived abroad take so much for granted. Our cars, internet connections, clean water and so much more. Among these is an item elegant in its simplicity which makes our lives so much better. I am, of course, talking about sliced bread.

Few of us think, when making a sandwich, realize the benefits of having bread pre-sliced for us, wrapped up in plastic that keeps it fresh and soft. In Kazakhstan, however, that is a luxury few people can afford. Our bread is bought in a large, crusty loaf. It is usually baked in a local bakery and each loaf is individual, with its own flaws and quirks.

When we want French toast, we just beat some eggs and add a few other ingredients, and then pull a couple slices from the plastic wrap and fry them up. In Kazakhstan, we must draw the knife across the bread in order to enjoy the sweet cinnamony taste our beret wearing brothers across the Atlantic bestowed on us.

Few Americans know the frustration of not being able to slice those thin pieces of bread off the loaf, perfect for surrounding a large, succulent stack of roast beef, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. We don’t understand that in Kazakhstan, there are no sandwiches because the bread makes the meal too large to stuff in our mouths.

We can’t comprehend the pain of watching your bread tear and rip from a dull knife that prevents you from making that ideal piece of toast. No, we Americans greedily slather on the butter and thick cuts of cheese that form the core of a grilled cheese sandwich without a thought to how hard it would be to melt that cheese evenly if it were placed on a piece of bread more than a quarter inch thick.

The next time you make a sandwich or a piece of toast, be it French or otherwise, I hope you think of all the poor children who will never know the beauty of a sack lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or tomato soup and grilled cheese on a cold winter day. Revel in the divine symmetry of your bread slices, but don’t forget your poor Central Asian brothers who must slice their own.

1 comment:

Mr. Svenska said...

black bread, friend, get the darker bread and like Dexter, slice to your heart's content.