Yeast Roll Nostalgia

yeast rollsEvery now and then you’ll pass a bakery or be walking through a hotel and the distinctive scent wafts into your space. It’s familiar but at the same time exotic.

At first you can’t place it and then suddenly the coin drops. Yeast rolls. High school. Cafeteria. Hairnets. Tuesdays and Thursdays. And butter – don’t forget the butter.

Golden brown on top, still warm inside, the lowly yeast roll got me through some pretty tough days. Raging inferiority complexes and hopeless crushes were no match for the yeast roll. Forget the chili, hotdog or pizza menu, the humble yeast roll made me feel on top of the world. I would go back for seconds and thirds just to get more of those tasty hunks of carbohydrates.

They were so doughy that you could have compressed them into something hard enough to use for cafeteria utensilsracquetball, but that thought never occurred to us. And the food fight scene in Animal House was a few years off, but even after watching that food fling, I could not imagine turning those warm dollops of dough into ammunition.

For me the yeast roll was the original comfort food. Better than macaroni and cheese or tuna salad, the yeast roll held you close to its bosom…very close. Water, milk, eggs, butter, salt, sugar, all-purpose flour, and of course, dry yeast. Such ordinary ingredients, but they produced such a sophisticated gem. If you wanted to dress up the yeast roll for a big evening out, you could call it a Parker House roll (from the famed Parker House Hotel in Boston, where it was said to be invented) but that’s just the height of snobbery. Think you’re too good be called a yeast roll? The hell with you.

All these thoughts triggered by the very ordinary smell of warm yeast rolls coming out of the oven – olfactory nostalgia is truly great.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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