Raison d’etre

My mother used to buy nice clothes and hardly wear them because she wanted to keep them in good condition.  Then they’d go out of style, and when we would be cleaning the closet trying to purge it of unnecessary and unworn items, we’d keep them, just in case they came back in style (and they so would too, but never quite in the same incarnation).

I don’t think my mom is alone in this sort of thinking: saving things that you really treasure past the point of their expiration date because you can’t bear the idea of them losing their lustre.  Sometimes the anticipation of enjoying something is the extent of its consumption, rather than the actual experience of it.

It’s like me and raisin bread.  

The staple bread product in our household is rye.  Only when the novelty breads like raisin are on sale do we indulge in such frivolity.  Two loaves for $3?  Is it Mardi Gras?  Now this deserves the good jam, not that fruit spread business.

The thing is, sometimes I just can’t bear to eat the last few slices of raisin bread.  If I eat them, the party will be over!  Who knows when it’ll be on sale again?  So the last few slices stay in the bag, awaiting their day of glory.  And then of course we need more bread, so the hulking new loaf of rye gets slumped on top of the already squashed raisin, and amidst all the carbo-loading of the countertop, I forget about the raisin bread for about two weeks.

And then I see them.  Through the sheen of the plastic bag, I can’t tell if they’ve gone mouldy, but I expect the worst – how can something so sweetly delicious last so long?  But  to my surprise, they are intact: no furry green colonies have taken over, and while they are a little crumpled, the slices smile brightly and shake off the melancholy of their cramped confinement.  Unfortunately for them, my reaction to their miraculous survival is far from elated.  In fact, I am rather disturbed – how can something so moist last for so long?  And still taste kind of okay?  How much of those preservatives are they adding?  Why am I actually making toast with this?  My reaction was similar to how I felt when I learned that Nicole Kidman had Botoxed her face.  Why Nicole?  You are so beautiful.  I thought actors needed to show their emotion.  Prosthetic noses can only get you so far.  I’m still mesmerized by the lushness of Moulin Rouge….

So anyway, I have resolved henceforth to make my own raisin bread.  It probably will only last two days before it gets stale and crumbly, but it’ll be wholesome and lovely and potentially formed into a braid, in a nod to my other favourite party-time bread, challah.  More importantly, I am coming to terms with the nature of enjoyment, specifically that its sweetness lies in its impermanence.  Things should be enjoyed when they are with you, and when they go, they should simply go.  Fashion trends change, and youth is all the more beautiful when it fades gracefully and with equanimous surrender.  

And most importantly, bread should not last two weeks.  Yucky.

So here, this is my hulky homemade loaf of raisin bread.  Barry is quite pleased with it.  He is going to help me slice it up and freeze it for miles of enjoyment later.

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