Saturday, June 06, 2009

Strange Bread, Stange Blame

I know virtually nothing about bread-making; however, my understanding is from aprilp_katje that salt is not an essential ingredient to good-tasting bread, contrary to the opinion expressed by Elly Patterson in today's reprint of For Better or For Worse.

According to Wiki Answers:

Without salt, bread rises faster and air pockets enlarge where the gluten has broken, allowing holes to form. Bread made without salt will taste bland. If you choose to eliminate salt, decrease the proofing time so that the large air pockets don't have time to develop. Salt should not be eliminated from recipes using automatic bread-making machines.

According to this, what Elly should have done was decrease the proofing time.

According to the Blood Pressure Association, you don’t even need to do that, and they provide a number of salt-free bread recipes.

Regardless, clearly Elly Patterson believes bread without salt is ruined and it is not difficult to find people who agree with her.

The oddest part of the strip comes in the final 2 panels. Elly exclaims in a voice loud enough to be heard clearly outside that she could not tell John she had forgotten to put salt in the bread, because if he ever found out, she would never live it down. What? Is John Patterson a master baker now? Is he an expert in making bread? Is he going to march in and say, “Elly! How could you forget to put salt in the bread? What were you thinking? It will never inhibit the fermentation properly now and the developing gluten will be weakened!”

I suppose what Elly is talking about is John’s reaction to the wasted food. We have seen before that Elly has an obsession with finishing leftovers, but at the time it was not related to demands by John. Nevertheless, what we discover is that when John uncovers the bread fermenting away in the garbage can, it is not Elly that gets the blame but little Michael Patterson. Michael explains that he is not responsible, as "it’s been growin’ in there since lunchtime.” Their reaction is a little ambiguous. It could mean:

a. John is criticizing Michael’s use of a trash can to make bread.

b. John and Michael think it is some kind of alien thing that has decided to take root and grow in their trash can.

c. John sees the bread and wonders if the 3-second rule applies.

It has been a very strange week in For Better or For Worse, and this strip is another strange one. It fits the theme of the week nicely.

8 Comments:

Blogger DreadedCandiru2 said...

It seems to me that Elly's real fear is that John will run his mouth about how his mother would have done things. That's because one of the themes of the Early Years was a battle to see whose mother was superior. Elly clearly believes that if John found out about this, it would be another point in his and Carrie's favor.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The oddest part of the strip comes in the final 2 panels.

I think the oddest part of the strip is the implication that Elly kneaded all that dough at once. Kneading bread dough is work, even for just 2 loaves at a time. I'm not sure it would be humanly possible to knead enough bread dough for 24 loaves in one lump like that. If it is, you need a massive countertop and REALLY massive arms and stamina. Elly doesn't need to work out, she's already an incredible athlete just from her dough-kneading.

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been a very strange week in For Better or For Worse, and this strip is another strange one. It fits the theme of the week nicely.

You mean a festering lump of garbage, the result of waste & stupidity, is a good symbol of this latest arc?

Works for me....

7:38 AM  
Blogger howard said...

DreadedCandiru2

It seems to me that Elly's real fear is that John will run his mouth about how his mother would have done things. That's because one of the themes of the Early Years was a battle to see whose mother was superior. -

It may be a theme of the early years, but it is clearly a theme that falls into the category of “Do not reprint.” If this is the message Lynn is trying to send, she has removed her supporting material.

8:11 AM  
Blogger howard said...

clio_1,

I think the oddest part of the strip is the implication that Elly kneaded all that dough at once. -

Good point. I was concentrating on the salt and not the dough. The strip has the feel of Lynn Johnston hearing a funny story from someone and adapting it to her strip, without knowing all the details of it, which would make it believable to a breadmaker.

8:12 AM  
Blogger howard said...

maggie_texas,

You mean a festering lump of garbage, the result of waste & stupidity, is a good symbol of this latest arc? -

I could not have summarized it any better.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Esther said...

I laughed just from the image of some alien thing growing in the garbage with the boys baffled.

8:16 AM  
Blogger howard said...

Esther,

I laughed just from the image of some alien thing growing in the garbage with the boys baffled.-

That is the part of the strip that works. In order to enjoy it, I think you have to ignore the preposterous lead-in. If Lynn had used Mike and John standing around looking at it, watching it grow, and speculating wildly about what it was -- only be informed casually by Elly that it was just bad dough she had to throw out, I think the whole strip could have worked.

1:23 PM  

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