Raisin Bread and Coffee

Understanding what only life can teach

Homemade raisin bread fresh from the oven

When I was a kid I loved the idea of raisin bread more than the bread itself. My mother, herself an avid baker who attended cooking school in new york and catered, would sit down at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and 2 slices of store-bought raisin bread. The bread looked so pretty on the pfaltzgraff tea rose plate. I thought it must taste as good as it looked in order for my mom to eat it. Maybe being in the presence of Master-Chef Mom made it more tasty, because once it got on my plate it tasted like raisins stuffed inside a slice of plain white bread. The tiny amount of icing on top, with it’s slick congealed texture was what saved it for me. The very top of the bread and a raisin or two was all I ever touched. My mother finished off my slices time after time. Her affinity for something so dry and plain, so obviously inferior to all the many breads and baked goods she made, puzzled me. Since growing older, however, and finding myself at the age she was then. I have developed a theory….

I believe it was nostalgia that made her long for those slices. My mother grew up very poor. Baked goods with little bits of sweetness thrown in were special. My mother started eating this long before my grandmother died. After my grandmother passed, however, it wasn’t a light-hearted snack for her. I would see her sit at the table in a quiet setting, alone, no t.v. (as was usual for my mom- had to watch her soap-operas) It was, I believe, a ritual. Perhaps a way to connect to her mom or relive a moment in time.

Now, though I can’t drink caffeine- gives me arrhythmia issues. I make my own raisin bread. I didn’t go to cooking school or learn from mom, I was always off in my own world and barely paid attention to her cooking until I was much older. I do regret that. No, I perfected my skills with the help of my family.

My own mom passed ten years ago, and I have my own memories and rituals. It is just that, at certain times, the memory of things and people that died to me long ago feel so strongly that they elicit a need or desire to bring back a piece of that moment. A smell, a taste…. in order to savor it. So, here is my Raisin Bread.

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