Bread, the sacred essential food, is one of prominence in the Albanian cuisine. For me, bread has always been, is, and always will be the inimitable delight that brings friends and families together. For centuries, it is bread that has kept the humanity evolving and alleviated hunger like no other table staple. It has always been admired universally and is one of humanity’s oldest nourishment.

It was bread that kept our family around ‘sofra’, the traditional short-legged chair less table, when the times were good or bad. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve bread, like my daily routines of going to the bakery to buy loaves that had just come out the oven. I knew the town’s baker by name as I also knew his morning and the afternoon baking schedule. Aaaah, the moments of waiting in line for the bread to bake and then trying to resist the temptation of not eating at least ½ a loaf on the way home, so my mom would be proud. It never happened; full loaves never made it back, but my mom’s twinkled eye criticism are reminiscence moments that I will always carry with me.

And, yes, not to forget that sugar filled or crumbled feta sandwich I devoured as I rushed outside to play.

These days, it seems that bread has become the curse of our regimen. Dietitians, nutritionists, health gurus and so on would do anything to eliminate bread of its existence. Gluten this, gluten that! Fat this, fat that. Bread is bad for you. I hear it all the time.

Oh please, give me a freaking break!

Call me an old-fashioned Albanian gal and criticize me all you want, but there is one thing I know for sure, America, as great as it is, will never be able to shake the Albanian bread out of me. Yes, I still bake fresh bread quite frequently, and if I had my choice, I’d do so every day. Nothing ever compares to home-made bread that even my American-born children can testify. In fact, I am known among their friends to be the mom that makes the best fresh bread and I treasure the moments when they surround my kitchen waiting for the bread to come out of the oven and having it gone before it gets the chance to cool off. “Mom, you’ve created monsters,” says, my son, Nate, “Everybody loves your bread, mom!”

So there you have it, an Albanian-American mom who will never be too Americanized and forget the bread, the only staple that still brings her home.

Friend, you will never hear me say, “I am giving up bread,” regardless of how modern-day dieting suggests. To me, giving up bread is like giving up on a blessing, that gluten that keeps us together and has preserved humanity since the early dawn of agriculture.

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