Fresh bread is the thing that stirs my memory - the tantalizing smell of fresh bread. What else in this world can beat its clean mouthwatering smell? I have seen people passing a baker's shop and sniff like a bloodhound, nose in the air, savouring the smell. They slow their steps, actually loitering, taking in the aroma. Your imagination will conjure up this scene. Even as you read this you will be thinking, "Yes, he is right. Why didn't I think of that?"
Nowadays the shop is a mecca for people to gather to chat and mix. You probably think that they are there for the items on sale. No. They are there to linger as long as they think no one is really keeping an eye on them, wondering why they are staying so long in that shop. I'll let you into a secret. They are there just to take in the delicious odours coming from the oven. They look forward to the next batch of bread coming out of the oven - fresh bread. That is why they linger. No need for an excuse because others are there also trying to be casual.
Early in our married life we lived in a flat where the bake house was only about 50 metres away from our upstairs back door. Lunch just about every day consisted of slices of fresh bread. I looked forward to that hour with generous helpings of butter on the slices. There was no need for extra filling over the top. The two, bread and butter, were sufficient.
As a child our family lived in a small country town and sometimes we ran out of bread over the weekend. I was sent late on a Sunday afternoon, to the bake house to buy half a loaf of bread to tide us over until the baker came the next day on his delivery rounds. By the time I reached our house I had attacked that half loaf and taken a couple of chunks out where the loaf had been broken in two. Needless to say that I was the person who got the cut slices with the big hole in the middle.
As every hour passes after the bread has been taken from the oven, it loses a certain amount of tastiness. The next morning it is perfect for toast and even later it is ready for a bread and butter pudding. Mind you, these are tasty morsels also.
Other people's opinion might be that onions being cooked are the ultimate in the memory stakes. I beg to differ. Onions are pleasant but only before a meal. Once you have had a meal and your appetite has been filled, then that smell can be nauseating.
Today the smell of fresh baked bread have gone. It now comes pre-wrapped with difficult to prize off tags. With a result the shape of the loaf has gone out the window and sometimes it is only a twisted mess. The once satisfying aroma has dissipated back into the bread or lost forever within its plastic wrap.
That wonderful, appetite satisfying smell is no longer there, only a memory.
Neville McIntyre October 2010