In my recent spate of pre-holiday baking, I’ve rediscovered wax paper.
I’ve had a couple of rolls in the back of the pantry for a while, purchased because some recipe I was going to make at some point required them, but I hadn’t actually begun to use it until last Saturday when I baked a lemon pound cake. The instructions for that recommended lining the loaf pan with wax paper so that it was easy to pull the cake out after baking.
Removing that lemon pound cake (which was divine, by the way – DIVINE) was so easy, that not only did a friend and I actually have a conversation about wax paper yesterday (Well, not just about it, but still, we are not 1950s housewives. We both do paid work, you know?), but I used the same trick when I made banana bread this morning.
It’s weird, the way common objects can have so much meaning. I mean, yes, on one level wax paper is just a tool that makes baking a bit easier, but at the same time, the texture of it, the satisfying ripping sound it makes when I remove a length of it from the roll, those things are time portals that take me back to summers at the Jersey shore with my grandparents.
I remember picnic coolers lined with dry ice, holding a pitcher of iced tea, tuna or egg salad sandwiches wrapped in wax paper (or, if my grandmother had them available, wax paper sandwich bags), and paper napkins that went into the cooler with the food. Something magical happened to those napkins in the process. Before they went into the picnic cooler they were normal paper, slightly rough, but when they came out of it at the beach they felt like cool, soft tissue, and I used to love holding them up to my sun-warmed skin before using them as actual, you know, napkins.
Food tastes better, at least to me, when it’s wrapped in wax paper instead of plastic wrap. Maybe it’s because it doesn’t sweat, or maybe it’s just nostalgia, but if there’s beauty in ordinary things like dandelions and autumn leaves, there’s a kind of beauty in wax paper and fresh baked goods, and even in tuna fish sandwiches, whether they’re eaten in the sunlit kitchen or while sitting on a blanket in the sand.
Isn’t it amazing, how memories created by/with the most ordinary objects when we were very young are evoked decades later, all unexpected? In a flash, you’re transported to another time, another era, another you–but the same, at once. Those memories lurk, below the threshold of awareness, ready to announce themselves, with any sensory related input. I was in a friends’ car yesterday. They have dogs. That doggy smell, faint but unmistakeable…and I was there, hugging Jasmine once again.
I think the main association I have with wax paper is leftovers: mom always covered the leftovers with wax paper when she nuked them, to keep the moisture in, I think.
Similar to your use for wax paper, I was just using parchment paper today to keep a flatbread from sticking to the baking pan. It was amazing how much better it was compared to the first time I made the same recipe, when I just used a lot of oil to coat the pan.
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