How Big is YOUR Cake Pan?


Can’t she come up with a better example?

Discussions about current events remind me of a story, as they so often do. After all, I am a storyteller.

With apologies to my vegetarian and vegan friends, have you heard the one about the woman who was baking her Sunday best, the traditional family ham?

Her youngest daughter was watching, learning, taking it all in. As her first step, the mother took the ham and cut a thick section off each end. She then took the cuts and tossed them out the back door to the scrap pile beyond. The crows didn’t mind – they were happy with her gift – but the daughter stopped and asked with the curiosity of new eyes, “Why did you do that?”

“That’s just the way it’s done, my child. You must always do that first, or it won’t turn out right.”

“But why? It wasn’t fat or bone or gristle – it looked like good meat.”

The mother stopped and thought, perhaps for the first time: Why exactly did she do that?

“I don’t know, sweet one. It’s just how my mother taught me, what she always did.”

The next weekend found them at Grandmother’s house, where the ritual was once again enacted. This time, Granddaughter and Mother both raised the question.

“Grandmother, why did you cut off two perfectly good ends of ham and throw them out? Why do we do that?”

Grandmother paused and thought. Come to think of it, she didn’t know either. It’s just what they’d always done, what she’d always taught. Wait, no – “That’s what I saw my mother do – and I figured she had a good reason, so I did it too! If it’s good enough for Momma…”

This was one very lucky family, indeed, that still had five generations on our little planet, as some families do. And so, the following weekend, in the late afternoon the whole kit-and-caboodle traipsed off to visit Great-Grandmother, now living not far away in the nursing home to which she had been assigned.

“Grandmother, Grandmother – wake up – can you hear me?” the youngest one began. “Please tell me – I want to know – why do we always cut the ends off of a ham when we make Sunday dinner? Why do we throw them out? I don’t understand. Please help me.”

The Great Grandmother stirred from her rest, raised eyes twinkling in her setting sun. Wrinkles ran like rippled satin across her cheeks as she laughed, then asked a question of her own. “Why would you do that? That’s perfectly good ham! The only reason I ever cut the ends off mine was because my cake pan was too small.”

(C) Mary Batson,
All rights reserved, including the one to bake a squash instead.



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