There was a time when bread sticks were a centerpiece on the family table. It was a time that my Nana was still alive and we would gather every Friday night for dinner. She made homemade bread sticks that were amazing. Crunchy on the outside and melt in your mouth insides; just the right amount of butter with a hint of salt.
Every dinner started with the bread sticks being put out before the main meal was served and the family would gather around each snatching a bread stick. Then time passed by us and in a sweep of the minute hand on life’s clock, Nana was suffering from Alzheimer’s, the family was in chaos and the bread sticks stopped. The recipe lost when we lost her, but no family member ever lost the memory of the bread stick.
In a feeble attempt the past couple of days, I have been trying to recreate the bread stick with the hopes of once again bringing it to the table. I first ended up with something similar to those salt dough ornaments, then pretzels, next fat rolls (which oddly turned out tasting like Olive Garden’s famous bread sticks…don’t worry, I saved that recipe) and then finally a bread stick that turned out in flavor and texture of the ones that Nana made.
It wasn’t hers though.
It was at that moment when I was facing the feeling of failure, that I realized it wasn’t about the bread sticks at all. It was about her and everything we lost when her earthly life ended. It was remembering the happy memories on the farm, coming in from chasing cows and exploring woods, sitting down with the whole family to enjoy a home cooked meal together and reaching for a bread stick that was lovingly made by her hands.
As I stood there and batch after batch kneaded the dough, I thought about all the times that she so looked forward to her family coming over that she kneaded the dough for the bread sticks. I found out it is very time consuming, so it makes that single act of bread sticks with every dinner even that more special. I worried and fretted each time a pan went in the oven. What if these don’t taste like hers…will I have forgotten her and that memory?
I miss the taste of that bread stick that no recipe can ever duplicate.