microcosm

Crumbs and Dust

I submitted a proposal to ObjectLessons about Bread Crumbs/Bread Dust. It was passed upon, but then what good would a blog be if not a purgatory for passing over. I started becoming rather invested in my trailing of bread crumbs, so here are the piles I started building up.

Bread Crumbs
Bread Dust

In a vague sense, one may call them a microcosm of the macrocosm of the split between need and want.

Let’s put it more generally. Bread can be described as a stand-in for one of the most basic human needs. And when the need is dire, anything resembling bread to the slightest will do.

Then bread may be turned into a want, a supplement, an accessory; a fashionable baguette. But you still needthat bread; that rye, whole wheat, whatever you want to pick out from the stack behind the cashier with big, visible labels and yet you still have to ask what is available and what that one is and what that one is. It’s so important.

And yet when it comes to the remains, the crumbs, the dust, it’s brushed aside, swept into the dust pan because what use is something so fine?

Apparently in New York City the cops are allowed are ticket you for feeding bread crumbs to birds.
Simultaneously pounds and pounds are tossed and brushed aside.
None are even sprinkled upon salads or soups. And why not?

Present someone with three cookies, one of which is broken in two pieces but placed to seem together, more often than not they will pick a whole cookie. Pieces aren’t necessarily disparaged, but they aren’t particularly liked.

This looking over of pieces in favor of wholes.
Why the favor of wholes over pieces when holes are dug out in pieces?
Not to say that we should aim for wholes, but the pieces are vital.

There are many object that come with an implication of ‘dailyness’. Getting coffee, going to bed, reading the news; just to begin a short list. Now, this list may or may not have included bread, and maybe it’s the fact that now I work at an establishment called “The Daily Bread”, but there’s a significance to bread that’s suddenly become underlined to me.

Every morning on the way to work, I read from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago Volumee I. Bread comes up quite a bit, especially in the descriptions of its wet, dense existence.

Whenever I close the store, one of my duties is to brush clean the inside of the bread-cutting machine. The result each time is hillside of bread dust. And I wonder at what the prisoners in the Gulags would’ve done for this pile.

A common request that baffles me is for the baguette to be covered with two bags. Is it embarrassing for others to see your bread? Just one baguette, peeking out of a purse that probably cost about as much as the bakery.

The term “bread-winner”—the supporter, the money-maker. It’s in the form of our language.

Bread and salt are often offered in Eastern European countries as a welcome. And who can say no to that?

1917 Russia; the Bolsheviks promised “peace, land, and bread”. What more could one want? It’s been with us since we began to be creative towards our hunger. When we began to play.

Now bread crumbs are brushed aside, disposed off. Given to the birds, but even that’s frowned upon in some areas. Why not play with the leftover dust? Grind the garlic to the finest powder but when it’s collecting itself for you, it’s too much trouble.

Maybe the story of Hansel and Gretel followed its own bread crumbs to the back of our mind. How can you trust bread crumbs when any one could take them?

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