It started with a cream cheese garlic spread I’d made on Easter. I’d been craving it and all I needed to finish it off was a piece of bread. It’d been a few days since I’d shopped and sadly I had none. My friend Tam was over and she is a vegetarian. I felt it’d be rude to eat the chicken pasta I had in the fridge and I secretly wanted the rest of my spread. I’d planned to make bread at some point as I have a passion for baking and this seemed like the perfect moment. I asked if she wanted to help and she happily agreed. While I set out the ingredients for the bread, we’d decided to modify a garlic bread stick recipe to suit our needs. I started thinking of one of my favorite childhood fables; “The Little Red Hen”. An avid user of the phrase, “not I says the cat” a residual verbal tick I picked up from repeated usage.
I wondered if my friend, fellow nerd and book lover had ever heard of the child hood story. It turns out she had and it was also a favorite of hers.
“The Little Red Hen” is all about a little hen who finds some grain. Her goal to make some bread, but first she has to grow the grain into the wheat and so on and so forth. Along the way she runs into other characters of the farm; all whom refuse to help in growing the grain to make the bread. Over time the hen harvests her wheat and makes her bread and of course all the farm animals wanted some of the it. Unlike the mushy goo of Disney’s children stories modified for a more delicate generation this fable ends with the little red hen devouring the bread all by her lonesome while the lazy animals watched.
This moral story of hard work and the consequences of laziness most likely originated in Russia. The popular US version I remember, written by Margot Zemach was published by Little Golden Books. Our story was more about hunger and the desire to work out of laziness. (I’d refused to walk to the supermarket around the corner) Tam actually helped me make the bread and so had a few helpings herself.