You know that I am an avid baker, albeit with inconsistent results. Challah is the one item that I have mastered over many years of practice, and as such is a source of deep pride.
I’m not kidding when I say my challah is coveted far and wide. On two occasions now, I have transported my freshly baked bread across the country for family visits. This may seem simple enough: bake a loaf prior to departure, put it in a bag, and cart it on the plane with me.
Don’t be fooled, dear readers. Simple it’s not. Consider that the challah can’t be forgotten, confiscated, or squished anywhere along the way. All three are distinct possibilities, but J. is like an elephant on the forgetting front, so I leave that one to her.
The security screening folks at the airport take their jobs very seriously, for good reason. The first time I transported challah, the screener caught the lovely aroma and playfully threatened to confiscate my wares. One must be careful in a situation like this; one must not anger the security screener. (I have learned this from hours of watching Border Security.) Still, I refused; I was invested in getting my bread to Toronto intact.
The two security screeners I had last weekend were much sterner, so no joking with them. They did not appreciate how fragile the contents of my Grover reusable shopping bag were. (Of course I have a Grover reusable shopping bag. Don’t you?) Both screeners tried to place my heavy backpack on top of my Grover bag rather than beside it. I will admit I abruptly intervened, asserting that the contents of the bag were fragile. My insistence was effective if inappropriate, and the knapsack was moved clear of the baked goods.
I thought I was home free, until we got on the plane. J. and I decided that we could not safely store the challah under the seat in front of us because the lovely aroma would permeate the plane and the bread would never make it out alive. What if someone asked to taste my specialty? How could I say no? So we found space in the jam-packed overhead bin.
You know how each and every traveller, except for me, is carrying on a suitcase of late. The last fellow to board, who happened to be seated by us, was no exception. He geared up to jam his heavy bag into the too-small remaining space in the overhead bin, the same one where J. had secured a safe spot for Grover et al. This fellow, large of stature and voice, bellowed: “Well, I’ll just put my bag beside Cookie Monster here.” Cookie Monster? Who was this guy, and how did he not know the difference between Grover and Cookie Monster? Had he never watched Sesame Street? J., who had the aisle seat, jumped up to avert potential disaster, and ensured this man’s bag was nowhere near ours.
Although the contents of the overhead bins may shift over the course of the flight, by the grace of God, the challah survived intact. I shudder to think what would have happened had I shown up empty handed.