Yeast rolls and Motown

Published 9:35 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Two fond memories from my childhood keep surfacing lately. One is lying in my bed as a boy, and hearing Motown classics out in the kitchen while my mother played cards with her friends. I must have memorized every song The Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson ever sang. It wasn’t on purpose, of course. They just sunk in somehow.

The other memory haunting me lately is my mother’s yeast rolls glazed with honey butter. If you never had one, right from the oven with a scoop of her chicken salad, I truly don’t know how to explain it. Think of the best thing you’ve ever tasted, and multiply it by awesome, and you’ll be close to what the experience was like.

Since I know that no memories spring to mind without some reason or reasons, I’ve started to put it all together.


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Obviously, the constant craving for yeast rolls means I was a bit too hasty in my prediction that I would not feel any ill effects from my gluten-free diet. When I stated “it’s only bread” in a previous column, I clearly had buried the memory of those awesome yeast rolls way down under a mountain of Chinese food, steak and bacon.

I should have known it was just my imagination running away with me. Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep my momma’s yeast rolls from getting to my very core.

Lately, it’s become a real challenge to avoid gluten. Especially when all I can think about is the most awesome yeast rolls ever made.

I’ve been having to take the long route to the eggs in the grocery store — practically climbing over a cashier stand to avoid getting a whiff — because the bakery is strategically placed along the simpler route.

And just who told convenience stores and gas stations to start carrying fresh baked goods in display cases anyway? Can’t a man get a V-8 and a sack of carrots without considering how many bear claws he can fit in his mouth before being detained by authorities?

Gluten-free woes aside, though, there is another more important reason my childhood memories are haunting me.

March 21 marks the three-year anniversary of my mother’s passing. And my heart and body still feel the effects of losing a woman who kept me well-fed, well-loved, and well-versed in the artistry of the Motown sound.

I’m sure she’s looking down on me now, seeing all that I’m going through, diet and all. Smiles or no, she can see the tracks of my tears from heaven. It’s not easy to fight the urges, but I know she’s on my side. She knows that I’m a troubled man who’s fighting the good fight.

And though we can never share a batch of her yeast rolls again, perhaps attending the Masters of Motown at the SCCA this weekend would be a fitting tribute to the woman who helped me appreciate good food and good music.

Rest in peace, Hannah May. I hope the Motown sound is alive and well, wherever you are.