On being conservative bread eater
This is a story about bread. And politics. But mostly bread.
My life was always connected with bread. And if word “bread” wakes up in your head some loafs of ciabatta or baguette or some fancy bread from middle east let's forget about it. Bread is black and it has several names, but most of it tastes the same. Black bread is really important in belarusian culture. Old tradition says that you should great people with bread (black one, of course) and salt. In fact, I visited several weddings where this bread and salt was one of the procedures to go through.
Black bread was on our table since i remember myself. It is an easy extra for each meal in case you don't have so much meat or other main course. Soup with bread for lunch is a classic. If you don't want to stay hungry – eat more bread. I am a traditional child of the culture. I believe you can eat bread with almost every dish, but you shouldn't do that with potato or noodles. Some people dare to do that, but I'm honestly not one of them. My traditional upbringing doesn't allow me to eat black bread sweet. Black bread is for salty things, and white bread is for sweet things. Even butter on the black bread makes me feel weird. But this is not connected with traditions, as some people in my family dare to do that. Trying black bread with nuts or fruits when i was 12 made me already wonder if I'm getting too conservative and should be open for new things. Just to make clear i still believe that nuts should be separated from bread.
There are for sure some deviations from the rules. For example, my grandma taught me one of the best deserts – you take one piece of black bread, pour some water on it and drop as much sugar on it as you want. Eat. This was a solution for some hard times in soviet union, but i had period in my life (somewhere between 8 and 10) when i was eating this kind of black bread abomination all the time. It goes without saying that my teeth were not thrilled with such a sugar diet.
The older I got, the more I understood that even black bread can be of different types. Some can have even certain spices in it. Going to the different regions in the country, you can experience different flavors. I didn't travel so much.
However one of the main bread experiences happened to me when I was arrested for first time for 10 days. Let's make it clear – the food in “correctional facilities” in Belarus as bad as it gets. Some friends of mine prefer to go on hunger strike if they get short term arrests – this brings less psychological trauma than eating food. I'm not going to describe to you all the things you get (although the list is not big). Of course one of the main dishes is bread. You get bread every time. And the bread served is a special one. I never bothered to figure out the name, but every time i was speaking about it with anybody with the same experience they understood what I'm talking about. This bread is made in a form of a brick and has a crispy crust. Inside it is wet and has a lot of air. It is the cheapest bread you can get on the market. It is still black, but made from the worst shit you can get on the market. As it is wet inside, it is perfect for some art. People make figures out of it to play chess or make dice. Piece of such bread will make you remember it for looong time. I had this kind of bread in first half of 90s at my grandma's place, but back then it was not that traumatizing. The consistency of it leaves a certain type of trauma in your mouth from which you will never be able to recover. As soon as you see it or put it in your mouth, you know what you got and you don't want it.
Right now it is hard to find such bread in supermarkets but as far as i know it is still served in the house.
It won't surprise you if i say that germans also like black bread. Not the kind of my black bread. Here it is expensive and considered part of a healthy diet. Being a conservative bread eater i sorted out very clearly which bread types i don't like in the first months of my stay. However, there were still those places around the town that were making their own breads. I think you already know where it is going.
So one early morning one of my neighbors brings for the breakfast this extremely expensive awesome bread that we should all try. And it's BIO. As soon as we cut it I know what it is. It is the prison bread. I mean it is not like belarusian government started exporting its best selling prison product to germany. But the crispy crust and wet inside is there. With the face of a five-year-old trying olives i make a bite and that's it. It is the bread that they serve you in the prison. One to one taste. I tell the short version of the story to my neighbor and she starts excusing herself as if it was her fault. From one side it is your fault if you like belarusian prison bread, but from the other side if you live in germany you won't associate it with some negative experience in Eastern Europe. Luckily everything went fine and we never had this bread in our home afterwards.
The moral of this story is hard to find. Apart from an obvious conclusion that even short term arrest can fuck your mind to the extent that you will remember eating black prison bread even in Germany. So now I decided to stick to mostly white bread out here trying to avoid other traumatic experience i had with different types of bread...