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.
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!
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:
It’s too early to be up, really
But it’s worth it.
Every Saturday, the routine is the same,
But something changes
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
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
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
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 :*