breaking bread


Today is Thanksgiving in the US, a holiday marked primarily by having a large meal together with family and/or loved ones. In previous years, I’ve set the table with utensils, and served up some turkeys. This year, I want to make sure we include bread (and a few other bready baked goods) in our ongoing ThThTh feast.

  • break bread: an expression meaning “have a meal together with people”
  • “Breaking Bread,” a song by Johnny Cash
  • “bumped his head on a piece of bread”: a line from the song/nursery rhyme “It’s raining, it’s pouring” in the version I learned as a child (though not in more commonly known versions). Did anyone else learn this version?

    It’s raining, it’s pouring
    The old man in snoring.
    Bumped his head on a piece of bread,
    And didn’t get up till morning.

  • bread: a slang term for money
  • breadwinner: one who earns money for a household
  • dough: another term for “bread” as in “I’ll need some dough to buy bread”
  • dough: a mixture of flour, water and other ingredients used to bake bread, as in “I’ll knead some dough to bake bread.”
  • The Pillsbury Doughboy: an anthropomorphic wad of dough used to sell products for Pillsbury.
  • half a loaf is better than no bread or half a loaf is better than none: an expression meaning, roughly “getting something is better than getting nothing”
  • “Half a loaf is better than low bred:” a joke made by John Steed in The Avengers episode “The Correct Way to Kill
  • The Little Red Hen: a fairy tale about a hard-working, wheat-growing, flour-grinding, bread-baking hen who gets no help from her lazy companions, who prefer to loaf.
  • “give us this day our daily bread:” a line from the Lord’s Prayer, a prayer recited by Christian church-goers
  • bread line: a queue to receive food from a charitable organization
  • whitebread: a slang adjective used to describe someone whose tastes are bland and culturally mainstream, or things associated with such a person. Such as white bread.
  • bun in the oven: an expression meaning “knocked up”
  • The Muffin Man: an English nursery rhyme. Do you know the muffin man?
  • muffin top: the lumps of flesh about the waist caused by wearing pants that are too tight
  • Hansel and Gretel: in this fairy tale, two children leave a trail of breadcrumbs to mark their path so that they won’t get lost in the woods. It’s not a particularly effective method.
  • bread is the staff of life: a saying about the importance of bread. Etymology online says:

    Staff of life “bread” is from the Biblical phrase “to break the staff of bread” (Lev. xxvi.26), transl. Heb. matteh lekhem.

    I’ll take a page from Magpie and redirect you to this blogger, who poked further into the orgins of the phrase.

  • “I’ll grind his bones to make my bread,” a line spoken by the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk:

    Fee-fi-fo-fum!
    I smell the blood of an Englishman.
    Be he ‘live, or be he dead,
    I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

  • the best thing since sliced bread: an expression said appreciatively of something really innovative, or just something really good. Often said facetiously.
  • bread and circus: as the wiki says, since I’m too tired/lazy to say something on my own “is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, instead of gaining it through sound policy”
  • Project Bread, a Massachusetts anti-hunger organization. I’ll donate $5.00 to them for each commenter who includes the name of a type of bread in the comments below.

image credits: bread from wpclipart, Little Red Hen from Ella M. Beebe Picture Primer (New York: American Book Company, 1910) 87 from clipart ETC.

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11 responses to “breaking bread

  1. Loved the puns on needing/kneading dough for bread. :)

    I’ll make the “rye” comment that the old man in your version of the raining/pouring rhyme must’ve been pretty damn clumsy to knock himself out on a piece of bread. But then, I once managed to cut my nose (and actually drew blood) on a candy bar, so who am I to talk?

    My apple pies (aka “vehicles for cinnamon”) are in the oven. No bun, though.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Bread was also the name of a 70s band and the name of one of their albums.

    And there’s the fact that bread always lands buttered-side-down, which plays an important role in the whole Buttered Cat Paradox.

  3. my favourite type of bread is actually raisin bread, or rather, cinnamon raisin toast. but i never eat it. why is that?

    and still i have a muffin top. unfair.

  4. My mom baked many wonderful breads. My favorite (hot, right out of the oven and buttered) was her Boston Brown Bread. I think I need to call her and get that recipe!

    And now I’m thinking about:

    knowing which side your bread is buttered on — meaning, knowing what’s good for you and what isn’t

    bread and butter — your basic income or livelihood

    I’d never heard that version of “It’s raining, it’s pouring,” and I have to admit, it’s more detailed, more promising for the old man, and more amusing than the version I did learn (bumped his head when he went to bed and didn’t get up this morning).

  5. At Louisbourg Fortress you can get brown bread made a really old fashioned way (i.e. a couple of centuries ago). It is entirely feasible to knock oneself out if bumping THAT bread.

  6. I’m with girlgriot on the less promising version of “It’s raining, it’s pouring”…I learned, “bumped his head on the bed and couldn’t get up this morning.” I guess he sustained a concussion. Poor guy. I should hit my head on the bed; I need the rest. I often still hum that tune to myself when it rains.

  7. I love what you’ve done with the theme of bread.

  8. Didn’t Bread & Circus used to be a Massachusetts food store, too?

    Rye.
    Whole Wheat.
    Peasant.
    Challah.
    Pumpernickel.
    French.
    Tuscan.
    Pretzel.
    Salt Rising.
    Naan.
    Pita.
    Ciabatta.
    Focaccia.

  9. Pingback: NaBloPoMoFaSoLaTiDo « collecting tokens

  10. Pingback: One potato, two potato. | collecting tokens

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