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Remembering Love through Flour: A Christmas “Loaf” story

The other day while I was stuck in traffic, I was ninja-texting my next appointment stating I was going to be a bit late, when I heard a knock on my window.

I panicked, almost dropping my sandwich (I was multitasking!), thinking it was one of those MMDA officers who wanted me to be their source of lunch money. But when I looked up it was a street beggar—a man carrying his kid and clearly asking for P2. “Pahingi po ng 2 piso—he kept saying.

I don’t usually give alms because (1), it will just encourage more of them and (2), I’ve seen enough of those modus operandi videos, so I’m really extra careful.

But because he was carrying a kid (about 3 years old) who stared at me with those eyes that looked tired, sleepy and hungry, I started looking for coins. The first thing I saw, however, was the rest of my baon for the day, a pack of Gardenia Black Forest loaf.

I just opened the pack and was eating my second slice when I thought why not give it to them instead. They wouldn’t be able to buy anything with P2 or even P5 right? So I reached out and handed them all the remaining Black Forest loaf I had, thinking I would receive grateful nods or even a quick thank you.

Instead, I continued to get the same repeated dialogue—“Penge po ng P2!” I told him “Ha? Tinapay na po yan, kainin nyo na masarap po yan!” He gave me a blank stare, turned around and placed the bread on one of those concrete dividers and walked away. Even the kid didn’t look at the bread.

I was stunned. I wanted to go down and take my baon back and leave them P2, after all I was still hungry and it was way past my lunchtime.

I was about to unlock my door when I felt a hand on my shoulder and she said “hayaan mo na babalikan nila yun mamaya.”

I looked at her and smiled. I remembered, she was the one who introduced me to Gardenia breads years and years ago.

It was in the early naughties, I was just starting my work as an encoder / editorial assistant when I met her. We instantly clicked, as they say, misery loves company. I was miserable and she kept me company.

I was in a long distance relationship which wasn’t working and she was the only person I could talk to having been in a similar situation. We quickly became friends and she would sometimes drop by my office to bring me baon. I was cash strapped during those times and my budget was  P50 or less which often meant alternating between an instant noodle and a siopao combo from 7-11 or Q’s—banana-Qs, kamote-Q’s, well you get the idea.

I often looked forward to her visits as she would bring me “real” food, like those specialty burgers or whatever she could buy from the nearby restos.

Though I remember clearly one time, when she brought me a ham sandwich. It wasn’t store bought but something she prepared for me. (Which made me blush because nanay ko lang ang gumagawa nun!) What made it even more memorable was the bread, it tasted unlike anything else I’ve tried then (we usually buy sliced bread from the neighborhood bakery).

I called her to ask what kind of bread she used and she told me it was Gardenia.

So the next payday, I went to the supermarket to look for the Gardenia Classic White loaf to bring home as pasalubong and sure enough it was a hit! “Masarap kahit walang palaman,” was their promise and it was true.

I fell in love with Gardenia and I also fell in love with her.

Classic Pinoy breakfast egg and gardenia pandesal

So I really felt bad that I didn’t see the kid take his first bite of the Gardenia Black Forest slice. I would’ve wanted to see his reaction after tasting something uniquely delicious. I would’ve wanted to see him smile—to taste love, just as I tasted and felt love from my first bite.

Years passed and as a writer, I’ve probably tasted all sorts of bread varieties and pastries, but you can never go wrong with a pack of Gardenia.

Everyday Gardenia

Gardenia Classic White Bread has become part of our family celebrations, whether I transform it into toasted garlic bread to go with Mom’s trademark spaghetti, use it for my own version of  club sandwich, or just heat it a bit for a quick crunchy snack at midnight.

Gardenia Classic “masarap kahit walang palaman” but even better with hotdog and spam

Even my dad, who compares prices and probably knows the price of every brand of white bread now automatically picks up a Gardenia whenever he does the groceries.

And given Gardenia’s wide array of bread selections, there’s always a different kind of bread you can try every day of the week.

For those days when I am in a hurry for a meeting or there’s an early event, I just fry an egg or two and pair it with  Gardenia Pandesal. Pandesal has been part of every household’s breakfast table since, I think, we discovered the breakfast table. Whether you eat it on its own, dunk it in a hot cup of coffee, or serve it with your favorite palaman, this Filipino all-time favorite has truly become a part of the Filipino culture. Gardenia has made it even more special by using only premium ingredients — making it deliciously soft inside and delightfully crusty outside, enjoyably full-to-the-bite, unlike the ordinary ones which have an empty hollow center. I also like that it doesn’t have a lot of those crumbs that make it messy to eat.

Gardenia Black Forest loaf for those late night reading

Gardenia Pandesal is also rich with vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, Folate, Iron and Calcium essential in maintaining a healthy body. Besides the Gardenia Premium Pandesal, you can also choose from their  whole wheat pandesal, cheese buns, and California raisin buns.

On those days when I am at the buffet table too much, I try to balance it (and get rid of my guilt) by going on a bread diet. It’s a good thing that they have several healthy variants like my favorite Wheat Raisin Loaf that is generously packed with flavorful plump and juicy California raisins. FYI, raisins have antioxidants that help protect your body against diseases. One slice of the wheat raisin loaf a day supplies us with 29% of our daily dietary fiber needs, and you know that fiber helps promote good digestion and aids in better weight management.

See! Just typing that lessens the guilt of the lechon skin I ate last night!

On her gym days, she prefers the Gardenia Wheat Cranberry loaf, which has sweetened dried cranberries and of course is also made with premium whole wheat flour.  I don’t go to the gym but I do share in her cranberry loaf. Cranberries are also a natural source of antioxidants, and are fat- and cholesterol-free berries that contain “proanthocyanidins,” which prevent bacteria from sticking to our urinary tract wall and help prevent infection.

Binge watching with less guilt… Popcorn and Gardenia Wheat Raisin Loaf

We’ve also tried their Slim N’ Fit Wheaten Bread, the only bread in the market that contains L-Carnitine, a nutrient that may help burn calories combined with proper diet and exercise.

It’ nice to know that even if going to the gym is part of my 2018 new year’s resolution, I could already start dieting deliciously!

For those long nights when I have to write or choose to binge watch, my latest discovery is the Black Forest Loaf—made of luscious cherry bits embraced in generous dark chocolate swirls on soft and moist Gardenia bread — tastes like real cake but less sweet. It’s amazingly indulgent! The Black Forest Loaf is my new favorite baon, that’s why I have it in my car because it’s like a meal and dessert in one!

There’s a saying that “man does not live by bread alone” because you need to find the right companion and partner in life and nakakasawa din naman kung iisang klaseng tinapay.

Pero sabi ko naman kahit araw-arawin ang Gardenia, walang problema kase may tinapay na pwede sayo.

 Pero ang love sa iisa ko lang mararamdaman.

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