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April 2008
Grain Goodness

We're off to a "garden of sorts." Without a garden to grow wheat and grains we wouldn't enjoy the staff of life. Yes, good old bread!

Now years ago, I might add "too many years ago," as a young boy growing up in the city of Newark, I lived in a wonderful neighborhood of bakeries, real bakeries with REAL bread.

I remember stopping at the bakery to buy a loaf of Italian sesame seed bread after church on Sunday mornings. My mom entrusted me with the two shiny quarters. Yes, that's what that wonderful loaf of bread cost. The bread was a double treat in winter since it came out of the oven hot. That tasty loaf of bread held close kept me warm more than once!

The best part was that we had our choice of bakeries. I don't remember the names of all of them but, if I walked out the front door and didn't get sidetracked, just four blocks from home was Kielb's where you could buy bread and fresh baked cakes, pies and donuts.

Out the back door and over the fence, which put me into the Silver Lake section of Belleville, was the French Bakery with wonderful French bread, French rolls and rye bread. If no one was in the bakery you just went next door and rang the bell for Mr. French. The special treat was watching that loaf of fresh bread go through the slicing machine. Then Mr. French balanced the sliced loaf in one hand and slipped into a bag.

There were two other Italian bakeries within blocks of our house. I don't remember their names but I sure do remember that wonderful bread! As an added plus, when I was old enough to drive I palled around with the son of the owner of one of the bakeries. Ah yes, nothing but fresh bread and cookies…

With learning how to drive, a neighbor introduced me to a local mechanic named Vito who sort of took me under his wing and taught me basic car repairs. Across the street from his shop was yet another Italian bakery where I was introduced to Frazelia. Now I'm not sure of the spelling but I'm sure of what it was – day-old Italian bread, toasted, crispy and crunchy good. You could buy it by the slice, a snack of sorts.

In case you're wondering…yes, the neighborhood I grew up in was predominately Italian. More on that in a later story where I get to "name-drop."

Believe it or not there is one bakery from Newark that still bakes "real" bread that our local ShopRite sells. For that treat, stop in and buy bread from Callandra Bakeries.

I must not forget that Grandma baked too! We wouldn't have Grandma’s garden without her. Good old Grammie baked bread, cookies, cakes and pies using apples, peaches, plums, strawberries, rhubarb and even grew pumpkins that I remember scraping out the inside so Grammie could bake pumpkin pies. Now I tell you, were those not the good old days?

by Lance L. Casper

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