Cynthia L. Eppley, MA
A Pandemic of Baking
It was the worst of times, it was the best of times: a time to bake. As I’ve watched the Corona 19 Pandemic unfold before me, I have noticed several themes emerge. Loneliness, amazing humor, irreverence, and baking.
Baking you say? Isn’t that a normal activity?
Certainly it is at Christmas. People love to share their creations of Instagram or Facebook. The variety and splendor of food is amazing. There is something to please every palate. From the very simple to the ornate, there is an appeal to food. This is such a dynamic that there became a shortage of flour, baking yeast, paprika, baking powder and pumpkin.
If I didn’t think I wanted to bake before, I do now!
But why is there an appeal? Is it the fragrance of baked goods spreading its promise through the home? Or the yeasty aroma of bread as it bakes in the oven? Or the crunchy edge of a cookie as I bite into it? Perhaps it is the appeal of color and texture in decorated cookies; one even drawn as a face mask with an impish grin peeking above the mask.
And if you want to bake, get to the store early. Flour is sold out, as is baking yeast. Friends I know have tried several stores in the area. And this dynamic is played out nationally, from Maine to Florida and over into Washington State. And you thought toilet paper was hard to get. People who bake continue to bake. People who rarely bake have the sudden urge to fire up the oven.
So I’ve asked people. What is going on? I did an informal survey through Facebook. And these are some of the answers I’ve gotten:
“It seems as though the minute someone can’t find something and posts it on FB, everyone gets nervous and makes a run for the market. It’s crazy.”
“I went to Weavers Way today. He told me they sold out of a huge box of yeast in 2 days!”
“I have yeast, but I did buy 20# of flour. I can make a ton of stuff and usually do.”
“I think it’s a creative outlet for some people, also.”
”People may not want store made bread since it could be contaminated.”
“I’m making bread in my bread machine so I don’t have to but from the store; because homemade bread is so much yummier!!!”
“I think that it is something to do and it is comforting. Most people know and love the smell of baking bread. I think it is a way of remembering that when things were simpler.”
“The ultimate comfort of times gone by, mom in the kitchen, the preparation, the smell of it baking, the taste – hot out of the oven, toasted, or even a few days old. It’s a way of getting through scary times.”
“I just went to get some yeast for some Easter rolls. None here either. My theory is when the bread rush was on and people hoarded it, many went to the flour and yeast as a last resort to make their own. Bread supplies replenish relatively quickly. Yeast not so fast.”
What Does it all Mean?
We start to see a deeper meaning behind the rush to bake. While there are plenty of loaves of bread on the shelves, people are becoming Martha Stewart. Or the Pioneer Woman.
We return to more simple times, to the past. There is a comfort in going back to a safer, gentler time. But a question remains: Was it ever simpler?
Our sentimental journey may land us at our mother’s feet, or our fathers lap. But they knew the struggle of providing for their family, and putting a hot meal on the table every night. In most cases we were oblivious to this. They lived through World Wars and rationing.
In all times, in all circumstances we are called to trust in something bigger than we are, something where we can find the security we long for.
Switchfoot recorded a song that alludes to this: “Meant to live” We were meant to live for so much more Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside We were meant to live for so much more Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
We long for something so much more. We long for a bread that sustains us for this day but for the days to come. We long for the Bread of life that never fails us and never spoils. This was hinted at even in the Old Testament. There, God provided for His people in the wilderness. Exod 16:35
The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
He continued His lesson in Egypt.
Deut 16:3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.
And finally, the fulfillment of God’s purposes are seen in Jesus Himself: John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
As we continue through this Pandemic of 2020 it is very much like a wilderness. We are uncertain of coming days. But as we eat our bread, whether that is store bought or homemade, risen with yeast or a quick bread of banana or pumpkin?
Let us eat with rejoicing and trust in Him who holds us in the palm of His hand.