Breadwinner

Yesterday my yiayia (Greek for “grandma”) and I made bread together (by hand–no bread machine shortcuts!).  Specifically, we made my favorite kind of bread, a sweet bread called tsoureki that is traditionally served on Easter Sunday.  When I was very young, we’d made bread together every single week, but as I got older and went to school, this ritual slowed and eventually stopped.  Since I am going back to college in a few days, Yiayia called me up (we live next door; it’s very “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) and told me that she was making tsoureki especially for me.  I ended up spending more than three hours baking bread with her, which is a HUGE production.  Regular bread is difficult enough, but when you’re heating milk and a dozen eggs and mixing them together so that they don’t become ruined is a delicate task.  My yiayia is a big worrier and was anguished repeatedly, saying “somethink izzzz not right here” and clucking her tongue, assuming that the bread would turn out a hard lump.  She was wrong–the tsoureki was absolutely perfect.  Fluffy, light, sweet but not too sweet… I ate sooo much of it yesterday!  Even my brother, who doesn’t like it, ate some and admitted that it was really good.  Plus, Yiayia was happy all day… she called my mom just to tell her how excited she was about the tsoureki and how beautiful it was.

Prepared to roll and twist the dough.

Rolling out each mini loaf… my yiayia really wanted the pictures taken,but she didn’t want to be in any of them.  I had to set the camera on self-timer and balance it atop a chair back, so it wasn’t exactly stable… forgive the odd angles and part of my head being chopped off!

Two pans, risen and ready to go in the oven!

Close-up… the spices in the tsoureki make it smell better than it tastes (almost).  The way the aroma fills up the entire house is one of my favorite things about baking it.

Out of the oven!  We made a mess in the kitchen, but it was worth it.  Yiayia grabbed a piece for me literally just as it came out.

I actually wrote a poem about making bread with my yiayia a few years ago.  It was published in “TeenInk,” a magazine/newspaper where poetry and prose written by young adults is written.  Don’t feel obligated to read it, but here it is:

Fresh Bread

It’s too early to be up, really

But it’s worth it. 

Every Saturday, the routine is the same,

But something changes

Every time. 

It’s not the bread that’s changed.

No, that stays the same, the scent

Filling the warm kitched with the

Promise of fresh loaves in an hour

                                                      Or so. 

But it’s just dough right now, a

Wonderful squishy mess of fine white flour and

Mush.  The warning is the same: Be

Careful, because one mistake can

Ruin all your hard work. 

The taste is the same.  It is so

Much better than the grocery store

Wonderbread.  It tastes like

Winter nights huddled by the

F i r e.

It’s not the people who have changed. 

No, it’s just me and my grandmother,

Always                                     unless my

Grandfather meanders by, bringing with him

Tidbits of wisdom and warm-weather smiles. 

His voice joins my grandmother’s ever-present

Pitch, creating a noise that sounded like

An argument to everybody else but a

Windchime to me. 

So what’s changed?

Maybe it’s the

Feeling

Of growing older

That’s caused the change. 

The homemade bread is the same. 

It’s still made every Saturday.

My grandparents are the same, though their

Constant bickering sounds less like a

Windchime, now. 

I sleep in now. 

Maybe it’s me who has changed.

What do you think, lovelies?  Every time I make bread now I’m happy because I feel like I’m returning to my childhood, and even more importantly, spending time with my grandparents, who are extremely important to me… Anyway,  thanks for reading!  Have a fantastic day :*

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