For six semesters in college, I was a weekly “opinion” columnist for the student newspaper. I made $10 a week off that sweet gig, which was usually enough to treat myself to one meal at Panera if I didn’t add a soft drink. (Unless I turned in my pay slips late, in which case I’d only get $8, which happened about 90% of the time).

Anyway. I think this column that I am about to share with you was best described in the elegant words of one of my most loyal and cherished online commenters, who had this to say: “How is this even making it to print? At least give me an opnion piece to read.  I’m talking OPINION PIECE about lets say…Bush’s trip to Russia? The rising #’s of people applying for food stamps in the US? The election? I guess that’s too sophisticated for Julia. This is garbage.”

Free the food


POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON MAR. 28, 2008

We all have skeletons in our closet. But I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I’m one of only few who has ever had the same loaf of bread in my closet for seven years. I acquired it on St. Patrick’s Day of 1992.

For a festive side dish, my mom brought home a loaf of bread that was dyed green, had eyes and was wound in the shape of a snake. At the time, I believed that anything that had a face also had feelings. I was mortified that Mom would expect us to sacrifice this snake as an offering to St. Patrick. When she left the room, I stole the snake bread and hid it in my bedroom closet. I found it seven years later. “Wasn’t it moldy?” you might ask. Well, I don’t know, because it was green to begin with.

When I was young, my family would go on long road trips, and Mom would pack boxes of Shark Bites fruit snacks for me and my sister. My sister would pour entire packets of juicy sharks into her mouth without a care. But no matter how badly I was craving something sweet, I refused them every time. “Even though sharks are mean and deserve to die,” I actually remember telling myself, “these are just babies and are probably still pretty innocent.”

I thought I was over my phobia until my high school started serving circular tater tot disks with eyes and mouths cut into them to make them look like they were smiling. Normally, I am a fan of all things potato, but I got into the habit of disposing of these little demons before reaching my table. The one time I did attempt to eat them was completely unbearable. I couldn’t stand watching them be so obliviously happy when I knew where they would end up.

I will eat slabs of cow by the fistful, dead or alive. But throw a couple eyes on a loaf of bread or punch a few holes in a potato, and I become a bleeding-heart animal rights activist.

When I was studying in Australia, a popular snack was Starburst Gummy Squirts in the shape of human babies. Don’t get me wrong; they were delicious. With every bite, my mouth rejoiced in the delectable explosion of their sweet, flavorful infant blood. But that’s the problem: They ruined me. Now I can’t even look at children without salivating. I’ve had to abandon my dreams of motherhood.

This past St. Patrick’s Day, a padded envelope arrived at my door addressed from my mom. Inside was a packaged loaf of green snake bread from our local grocery store. No card or anything. Mom was probably just trying to be funny, but I saw this as my opportunity to wrap up my unfinished business with green snake bread.

So I drove out to the woods, unwrapped the snake bread from its plastic trappings, and set it down gingerly into the soil. “Run away,” I whispered into its ears of yeast, “Go forth, and be free.”


(Photo yanked from Wine Lover’s Cooking Gallery).