The Wonders of White Bread

An exaltation of white bread in all its glutinous, sop-worthy glory.

Story by John M. Martin

Gravy is what we call that happy, inevitable mingling of sauce and drippings at the end of a meal. There is no single recipe for it, and there is no more perfect medium in this world than white bread for sopping up that gravy so indestructibly. Same goes for bacon grease, tomato juice, and mayonnaise. You know what I’m talking about. Have you ever tried sopping up those resulting juices with wheat bread? Have you ever tried sopping up anything with wheat bread? If you’re a sad sucker like me, still jonesing for the sweet and greasy goodness of what you’ve just devoured, and stuck without a single slice of white in your health-conscious household, you know the futility of such a substitution.

Your favorite barbecue joint probably has this figured out. At Cozy Corner in Memphis, the full rack comes with four untoasted slices. I don’t know if it’s the sodium stearoyl lactylate or the soy lecithin or the azodicarbonamide that produces such a glutinous miracle. Actually, let’s not even go there. To get too deep into ingredients would be to invite the cynicism of nutrition. And this isn’t about that. Last I checked, bacon and mayo weren’t winning any beauty contests either. Because more than a filler or absorbent, white bread is a fast-fading memory, a time warp to the days when you were knee-high and spoon-fed and your pimiento cheese sandwich was still resolutely stuck to the roof of your mouth well into naptime and you didn’t know how happy that would make you feel to remember.