Breaking Bread

Today was a good day.  Came up to a friend’s house last night after I got off work, about an hour and a half north of where I live.  Took her some of the food we had lying around.  I’m not flush, but I’m not quite hurting either.  She is younger than me, and struggling to make ends meet, so when I told my daughter I was heading up and wanted to take her a care package so she would have enough food to last until she can buy more, my daughter responded in her usual generous manner.  We went through the cupboards and pantry, culling all the stuff we weren’t enamored of.  Ended up being a few grocery bags of food and a couple of cases of ramen noodles.  

When my daughter was a baby, I was raising her on my own, and there were a number of times that food got scarce.  I never let her know how many times she ate and I just “wasn’t hungry” in order to make sure she had enough.  In spite of my deceptions, though, she did know somehow.  She gets very nervous if the freezer isn’t packed so full that it’s hard to shut, and the cupboards in the same condition.  This gives her a soft spot when it comes to helping folks who have fallen on hard times, but also makes her very protective of our food supply.  My friend was touched by the amount of stuff I brought up, even though it didn’t hurt at all for us to give that amount.  

Today we went out for a bit without her fella.  Had coffee and a bite of food, and spent a few hours talking about all the things that have been on our minds that we haven’t been able to talk about to the people we live with.  It was a great unburdening to be able to say what’s on my mind without fear of hurting someone’s feelings, and I know she felt the same.  Despite the age difference (almost 30 years) we have *always* been friends ever since we first met.  She has a maturity of soul that I have always resonated with, and every time we see each other we pick up where we left off, almost as if we had just spoken the day before rather than having a year or more pass between visits.  Deep conversation is good for the soul.   

After we ate, we went to Aldi’s and picked up a few more things for her cupboard… I needed yoghurt and we needed coffee, but rather than do a grab-n-go, we wandered the aisles having fun and enjoying the company.  I was delighted to see they carry masa flour.  When I lived in Texas, I was introduced to soft tortilla chips, and was determined to learn to make them.  Never got the chance while there, and it isn’t the sort of thing my daughter would go in for.  My chance came today.  I’ve used masa to make tamales, but this was the first time I tried to make the chips.  They weren’t the same, of course, as the soft tortilla chips from Carra’s, but they were quite delicious in their own right.  

There’s something about fried dough that brings out the peasant spirit in me.  Flour mixed with water to make a soft dough, kneaded into a fairly stiff dough with extra flour and fried in hot oil seems to be a staple in many cultures, from the orient (fried wontons) to the americas (Navajo fry bread) and many other cultures in between.  It fills the belly.  It feeds the soul.  It is best shared among friends, washed down with a good drink… tea or sake, beer or cider, doesn’t much matter.  The important thing is that you eat them as they come out of the hot fat, lightly salted or dusted in sugar.  If you let them cool too much they aren’t the same.  And definitely make sure to share with friends.  A 4 pound bag of masa will make enough fried dough to feed dozens of people.  Cheap, easy, delicious.

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