Three kings emerged from a swirling storm of sand into 2023. Sand transformed to rain and wind stilled. They parked their camels in front of a cottage to munch sweet grass.
When a woman opened the door, the smell of Gallete du Rois met them. “You came in costume.” It was like they were old friends.
They crossed the threshold and mingled. A babble of languages greeted them: a glass of wine, a piece of cake, a celebration of their gift to a child king, a toast to peace on earth. The magic of it was that all were welcome.
I’ve been goddessing since the Iron Age. Born in water, manifested on land as horse/seductress, I lured Roman soldiers to their deaths. There’s a coin to prove it.
But Rome won. They couldn’t bury me; too many loyal followers. A demotion to domestic goddess, that’s all they managed. A warrior at heart, I spent centuries in the kitchen baking and plotting, biding my time.
We struck. Me, Ceres, and Demeter took back fertility and reproduction. It’s what they fear about women. The secrets we know about life and death. The patriarchy can try, but they can’t take away our power.
Baba Yaga, foolish old woman, rattler of chicken bones magicked from soup. Her elder son nurses historic delusions. In the younger one, hope persists. Hers is tough love at best. Battles rage. Forgotten, the soup gets cold.
Baba Yaga makes a cake with pears, no mushrooms. She absorbs the stove into herself, casting a spell on the forest. Her heart, a net to catch the half-cracked madness. The cake, an irresistible odor summoning the children to the table in Baba Yaga’s stilt perched house. As they eat, she turns the house upside down, shaking up what had seemed inevitable.
It was the season for gingerbread. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and other delicious smells wafted through the village from the bakery at the edge of the forest. It was the year the old woman who had baked him and the old man he called father had passed.
The Gingerbread Boy kept the business going, paddling cookies in and out of the ovens. On the day he learned that the estate went to the man’s brother, who did not accept him as a nephew, the orphan decided to make headlines. He ran for his life, beating every Olympic record and securing his future.
“Ma, we’ve got a ground-floor opportunity with these magic seeds.” But, it wasn’t the partnership that had convinced Jack to trade Milky-White. It was the sweet milk the green-skinned magician coaxed from her dry udders.
“Dear fool,” his mother said, and took to her bed.
Still, they prospered. Stalks grew into the clouds where the giant harvested and ground the wheat. His wife baked cakes using milk, flour and goose eggs. Jack sold the dainties, famous for a penny-weight of gold in each, to bakeries across the kingdom.
On Sundays, an incantation transported him to Milky-White, who never aged.
After a harrowing journey over steep gravel roads, after morning meditation sessions and before soaking in natural hot springs, you devoured Tassajara bread for breakfast. The cookbook made its way to your kitchen, instructing you in the art of turning gloppy sponge into sweet wheat loaves. Mmm… scrumptious with butter, jam and dark roast coffee.
It’s been a long journey enriched by frequent meanderings and yeasty experiences. Learning that satisfaction lies in a perfect translucent stretch of the dough that proves the kneading is done. Bread has secrets. It takes time. Like a good friend, bread must be patiently tended