I told a friend today that I was avoiding sliced bread for Lent and that I had a panini for lunch. Or panino, if you will. I was reminded, however, that panini is a type of bread. In a panic, I checked the definition on (where else?) Wikipedia:
…a sandwich made from a small loaf of bread.
Argh. Failure at the very start. But is it sliced bread?
The loaf is often cut horizontally and filled with salami, ham, meat, cheese or other food, and sometimes served hot.
Phew – you cut a panini, rather than slicing it. I’m safe.
But it raised the fundamental question of what exactly bread is. Or rather, what the term includes. Wikipedia defines it as baked, steamed or fried dough, usually comprising flour, water and yeast, which is rather dangerously all-encompassing.
TOASTER: Howdy doodly do! How’s it going? I’m Talkie – Talkie Toaster, your chirpy breakfast companion. Talkie’s the name, toasting’s the game. Anyone like any toast?
LISTER: Look, I don’t want any toast, and he [indicating Kryten] doesn’t want any toast. In fact, no one around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No. Toast.
TOASTER: How about a muffin?
LISTER: OR muffins! OR muffins! We don’t LIKE muffins around here! We want no muffins, no toast, no teacakes, no buns, baps, baguettes or bagels, no croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes and no hot-cross buns and definitely no smegging flapjacks!
TOASTER: Ah, so you’re a waffle man!
The Bible is not much clearer – one of the early references to bread in Genesis offers very little detail as to the ingredients, and later there is mention of bread both with and without yeast. Still pretty broad.
Now, either I convene a meeting of the world’s finest bakers and theologians to debate the issue, or I play safe over Lent by avoiding any bread or bread-related products that are in any way sliced.
But that doesn’t make sense – bread usually means the regular, normal, bread-shaped loaves that you get in shops. Rolls, bagels, and so on are generally known by those names and not as “bread”. Therefore I think the conventional idea of sliced bread (a large loaf of whatever shape, from which you get slices of bread), should be the target of my abstinence.
So that means today’s panino was a close shave – a sort of bread, but not actually, primarily, bread. And almost, but not quite, sliced.
Which brings me to my next dilemma – what, technically, is slicing? Watch this space.