“I like juicy bread with booohttar” remarks my great grandmother Charlotte as we trek slowly up a pinecone strewn hill past the church and cemetery, which are even older than she is, and towards the lush green forest. Anxious to get to the fairy valley in the middle of the forest, I don’t stop to swat at the mosquitoes that try to land on my arms and neck. The fairy valley is a little dip in the earth carpeted with soft grass and scattered with a collection of rustic fairy houses we have built in the past few days, and also years. The houses that we built here three years ago still stand, sheltered by the tall pines that surround them. But this forest holds much older memories as well.
As we sit among the lilies of the valley, wild blueberry bushes, and pine trees, Charlotte recounts memories of her childhood in Nida- herding the cows through the forest as a toddler, playing among the quaint houses, and eating “juicy” rye bread spread thick with fresh butter. She talks of walking through the market and sampling butter from each stand on the way to school. No bread, just pure butter. She loves her good bread and butter, but you can only get “juicy” bread here in Lithuania.
I decided that since we can’t get it anywhere else, we should be eating the best “juicy” bread possible while we’re here, so today we took 3 different kinds into the forest on a food quest. The bread gets its “juiciness” and dark, caramelized taste from the molasses and whole rye grains. The 3 breads we tried had varying levels of darkness, ranging from almost the color of chocolate cake to a more normal whole grain color. Overall we liked the darkest bread the best, and even Charlotte thinks that it’s almost as good as “juicy” bread from the old days, especially if there’s more butter than bread.