The bakery wasn’t that far away, just all the way down the hill and only a quarter of the way through town. I was quite mature now, (almost 6) so I was sent to fetch our loaf of bread. With this loaf of bread, my mother made my father’s work sandwiches, and when it got stale, our breakfasts and sometimes dinners. A true Hungarian LOVES bread (I think) and I’m a 100% bonafide Magyar girl.
Walking uphill is worse than down, carrying a big package makes it much, much worse, leaning forward to move up the steep incline… well, it was just too much. I picked a bit from the very corner of the loaf. It was one of those normal squarish sandwich white loaves with crust brown corners. It was a long hard climb, and I was getting hungry and that little bit didn’t help much, so I tore off some more, keeping the hole small. When my little hand had reached the soft inside of the loaf, it was over, I was done for, I kept pulling out little soft moist pillowy handfuls until I reached home. When I looked at what I had done, all I could think about was how I could avoid trouble, and there would be major trouble! That loaf was to feed us for the better part of the week. My brilliant solution was to pull the loaf out of the bag and invert it. It worked, as my mother always left the loaf wrapped in it’s bag. Everything was conserved. Everything was useful.
That evening, my mother prepared to make my father’s sandwich. Usually kolbasz and butter, maybe a feher paprika sliced into it. Then I heard this scream: “Laci! Gyere ide, egy patkány megette a kenyeret!” The blame hadn’t fixed itself upon me so I was relieved. Then the unmentionable, horrifying, stomach flipping, sickening thing happened the very next day. She phoned the baker and went “all Hungarian” on him, accusing him of being rat-infested, and then selling us rat eaten, chewed-up bread.
Anyway, I don’t remember much after that, I may have been spanked, I don’t remember, what I do remember is that from then on, I carried two loaves of bread home. I could never be sure if my parents paid for it, or that the baker took pity on me. It’s a mystery.
Notes & Translations
“Laci! Gyere ide, egy patkány megette a kenyeret!”
(Laci, come here! A rat has eaten our bread!)
Feher paprika : A pale yellow variety, thick walled, sweet and juicy.