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Those Bakery Products- Aha!

Those Bakery Products- Aha!

A great discussion is already going on since yesterday on Bakery Products that were available in 1960s when we were little children, but since freshness was the key to those products, I thought of writing a fresh piece while taking a stroll down the memory lanes.

I have never had such fresh, crispy and cream filled Cream Rolls ever since my childhood days and yes, the memory of the biscuits our mother used to get those made from bakeries somewhere in Lower Bazaar, will live with me, till I am alive. She would get assembled a day or two before, the exact measured quantities of ingredients required for making those, and carry them all the way to some place where those magical products were made. She would get home two different flavours of biscuits in two separate tin containers. She would club this job with other works for which she had to go to Lower Bazaar, because it wasn’t possible for her to go there often as it was very far away from home and she had four little children to look after. With no domestic help, for sharing the burden of her household work, it must be tough for her to get away from home. And she had to get back, before her children returned from school which used to be around 4:30 P.M. I still remember, seeing her getting back in a hurry with a coolie carrying the load of her purchases on head along with those two tin containers containing the biscuits that brought sparkle in our eyes and screams of delight in our voices.

I have been searching for that taste and crunchiness ever since but haven’t found one that can match that- nowhere not even anything remotely close to that. Even the best of the Big names that flaunt their foreign collaborations, are like substandard imitations- tasteless, stale and mushy. They used to have patterns likes waves set in swirls on them. There was something different in those simple products. A grain of Saunf (Anise), a seed of Chhoti ellaichi (Green Cardamom) and a definite freshness of a home-made product. Above all it had a dash of mother’s love, the priceless ingredient that is not sold in the market, but whose taste settles in your heart, the memory sets you singing and you don’t mind even if tears trickles down your cheeks because they are of a forgotten joy, of a loss which was also a gain, of remembrance of the days that can’t come back.

That man who brought the Bakery Products to our door steps, carried a deep trunk on his head. He used a big piece of cloth rolled in to a reel to use it as a cushion between his head and the trunk. He would come in the evening to our house in Upper Kaithu. He would put his trunk down carefully so as not to damage the creamy toppings of pastries. Then he used to open the lid, like a magician opening a wonderous chest, to let our longing hearts have an eyeful of the wide range of mouth-watering products that he carried in the deep coffers of his casket. Neatly stacked and carefully kept apart because his wares were delicate and the paths he walked on, were bouldered and uneven.

He carried a longish thick register, which resembled the flattened bread loaf. He gave that to us to write the account of our purchases sincerely. Things were purchased on credit in those days and all settlements were done on receipt of salary by the Parents. He trusted his customers for truthfulness and in those days, it was an essential part of the simple, god fearing society that imparted the values we have cherished all our lives and even when put to tough test in the present times, we have upheld them.

In any case he had no choice as he couldn’t read and write, but well, we couldn’t cheat either because- it was akin to committing a sin. As such we would keep asking forgiveness from God for the sins we might have committed unknowingly, committing one knowingly was impossible. After opening the lid, he would take out a flat board and a knife with a long thin blade and a round tip. He would then take out the items we wanted to buy. Bread wasn’t bought regularly because in Punjabi homes Paratha was the regular item for the breakfast and ours was no different. In any case mother believed in packing Parathas and Bhaji for us in the lunch boxes, so she had to make them anyway. Bread was perhaps bought only on Saturdays for the consumption on Sundays or must be only on the day when the coming day was a holiday.

He would take out the loaf and set it squarely on the wooden cutting board, place on the flat central part of the dome like lid now closed, and expertly cut thin, slices of equal thickness as ordered, and handover to us. Crispy Rusks were bought very often and delicious Cream Rolls that set my thoughts rolling for writing this article were the objects of extreme delight. My soul has ever since been searching for those delicious products, but sadly in the last fifty years, I haven’t even had one cream roll even half as good. It’s always lacking in one thing or the other. Either the cream is less or sourish, or the roll itself is soft or stale, it’s just not how it used to be, how it should be.

He carried pastries too, but they used to be more expensive as compared to other things. We wouldn’t normally have them. Our parents couldn’t afford to pamper us and as they had four constantly hungry mouths to feed, luxury was not on their list. Buying four pastries would be like splurging for them and buying two and making them four was like starting and unnecessary dispute over bigger and smaller portions, favourtism and plethora of other problems like how to divide a single cherry or a small slice of pine-apple on top. Whenever they were bought, they ended up bringing lots of sorrow than joy, so mom would avoid buying those for us. Another product that I remember that he used to have and I haven’t been able to find a good tasting ones since, was NanKhatai. A kind of bread-biscuit. There is no English name for it. He also carried Buns, X-ed on top and made from a sweetened dough. I don’t remember if he carried anything else, but he has left a lots of memories with me.

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