Strong stuff, that Fleish­mann’s yeast

The Compass - - SOCIALS - MA­RINA GAM­BIN Ma­rina Gam­bin writes from Pla­cen­tia. She can be reached by email at the fol­low­ing: mari­nagam­bin@per­

In th­ese mod­ern times of com­mer­cial bak­eries and re­frig­er­a­tion, I and many more New­found­land housewives have cho­sen to buy, rather than bake, our own bread. I have sep­a­rated my­self com­pletely from the drudgery of “up to my el­bows” in dough. It is a far cry from my childhood, grow­ing up in Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, in the 1950s, where women of­ten had to mix bread six days out of seven.

Mak­ing bread was such a com­mon chore that ev­ery­one took it for granted. You had your “Five Roses” or “Robin Hood” or “Cin­derella” flour and of course, Fleis­chmann’s yeast. I can still see my mother pre­par­ing the yeast. Some­times, when her bread was not as good as she ex­pected, she would say, “That was a bad batch of yeast.”

The men­tion of yeast leads me to one par­tic­u­lar event that hap­pened one sum­mer when I was about 10 years old. My mother was get­ting ready to “put bread in rise” (as she called it). Be­cause the yeast in the bowl looked some­what bland and life­less, she di­rected me to get rid of it out­doors. There was no such thing as garbage pickup in those days, so I just threw the yeast out on the grass in our nearby meadow.

Now my fam­ily, like many oth­ers, sup­ple­mented its fish­ery in­come by keep­ing some farm an­i­mals. Along with cows, sheep and a horse, we had about 30 hens. Dur­ing the day­time, our flock of poul­try knew no bound­aries. Hens wan­dered freely wher­ever they wanted to go, peck­ing here and there as they are known to do. We were quite ac­cus­tomed to see­ing them around and we hardly no­ticed their pres­ence.

Passed out hens

I re­mem­ber well that day of the yeast fi­asco. Af­ter sup­per, our grea­tun­cle Jack came into our house for his daily visit. “There’s some­thing wrong with your hens, John,” he said to my fa­ther. “Some of ‘em are go­ing around in cir­cles and some are stretched out in the lane.”

Sure enough, when we checked out­side, we found what would be re­ferred to in th­ese times as a drunken orgy. The hens that had passed out were easy to trans­port to the sta­ble but we had a hell of a time try­ing to nab the ones that were just tipsy. The big rooster’s ego, which was al­ways very healthy, was in­flated ten­fold and he was strut­ting and crow­ing and mak­ing amorous ad­vances to ev­ery­thing in sight.

My fa­ther had to lock him away in the cel­lar to him­self. My mother fig­ured out that the rooster and his harem must have gorged them­selves on the bad batch of yeast that I threw out. She sur­mised that since yeast is used to fer­ment beer and whiskey, there must have been some­thing in the prod­uct that caused ine­bri­a­tion in the un­sus­pect­ing an­i­mals. Strong stuff ! That Fleis­chmann’s!

To make a long story short, the next day they were all back on their legs. Sick, sober and sorry maybe, but do­ing OK. The rooster was re­leased from soli­tary con­fine­ment and he pranced around the sta­ble yard again, though much less ar­dently than be­fore.

I heard my fa­ther say that sev­eral times dur­ing the day he eyed many of the hens mak­ing their way to the cor­ner of the meadow where they had ac­ci­den­tally en­coun­tered the in­tox­i­cat­ing yeast the day be­fore. My mother com­mented that they were prob­a­bly like some hu­mans she knew and it would take a lot more than one hang­over to teach them a les­son.

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