Fairy bread has, of course, inspired many great debates, disputes, and events throughout history. Well has it been said that "man may not live by fairy bread alone." However, it has also been said, "give us this day our daily fairy bread." The preparation of fairy bread is, of course, a difficult process, involving at its simplest level (which also happens to be its most complex level) the smearing of a piece of bread with margarine or butter, following which a number of hundreds and thousands are sprinkled on this bread. One principal difficulty encountered by the many famed chefs of fairy bread over the centuries has been linguistic: namely, are there really 'hundreds and thousands' of hundreds and thousands in the bottle of hundreds and thousands to be found at the supermarket, or just a lot of them? Also problematic is the arrangement of the hundreds and thousands upon the slice of bread. Some chefs favour a stochastic method for arranging the hundreds and thousands upon the bread - ie, they just throw it on Any Old How. However, others prefer to arrange the hundreds and thousands into colourful shapes and spirals and curlicues. Some Tibetan fairy bread chefs have even been known to organise the hundreds and thousands, piece by piece, into a kind of "fairy bread mandala". Others disagree with this method.
There are many variations on the basic fairy bread theme. French fairy bread, for instance, sold in any good French boulangerie, consists of basic French rolls, covered with good French butter and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands (or, in the French language, 'hundreds e thousands'). In some cases, camembert or a local cheese is substituted for the butter. Italian fairy bread, on the other hand, is made on a pizza dough.
To mark the important and festive occasion that was "International Fairy Bread Appreciation Day", I consumed three slices of fairy bread. A few short notes on each slice follows.
While not an entirely successful rendition of the concept of 'fairy bread', the first slice nevertheless managed to fulfill all of the requirements adequately. The butter was covered well, and the hundreds and thousands were spread decently over the bread. There was a gap in one corner of the bread where there weren't that many hundreds and thousands, but nothing is perfect. And it has to be said that I had to restrain myself from shuddering with pleasure as I raised the slice to my lips, and enclosed them around this heavenly slice, this manna from heaven! Blessings and benedictions to the person who first invented this delicious meal!
A light and zesty slice of fairy bread shortly followed the first 'course', in which I took a decidedly minimalist approach to the concept. That is, I made the fairy bread with less butter and less hundreds and thousands (although not less bread, that would be ridiculous.) Although this resulted in the hundreds and thousands being spread somewhat sparsely, I discovered that they lingered on my palate, leaving it full of a bouquet of flavours. To paraphase that popular television show The Simpsons, "It's like there's a party in my mouth, and everyone's invited!"
I rested for a time between the creation and consumption of the second slice of fairy bread and the creation and consumption of the third slice, or 'course'. Thus it was after a period of relaxation and meditation that I returned to the duty of fairy bread cooking, full of renewed vigour and creativity. This time, I decided to return to the classics, generously slapping on the butter and creating vast mountains of hundreds and thousands: curlicues of colour! I was richly rewarded for my final outburst of artistic inspiration: for, the moment the bread touched my tongue, I swooned for happiness. O the glory and grandeur that is Rome! O the wonder of fairy bread!
TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION:
- What type of bread is best used for making fairy bread? White slice, wholemeal slice, or other?
- It has been suggested by certain mathematicians and bon vivants that lately, the number of yellow hundreds and thousands available in a bottle of hundreds and thousands has been declining rapidly. What are your observations? Why might this be so?
Fairy bread. Eat it.