The Baker’s Tale

This is a lovely old tale. A version can be found in Ted Brett’s “Don’t Book a Judge by his cover.”

There was this one-man-show baker who prided himself on his bread. He would slice it to order, disdaining automatic slicers, saying that his way was much more effective in producing the best end result. (He was dealing with the upper crust, of course.)

Soon his business grew to the point where he couldn’t keep up, so he bought himself a longer knife, and sliced two loaves at once. This worked OK for a while, but as his business continued to prosper, he continued to knead more dough. He thought of one half-baked idea after another, but, still, he found himself falling behind the orders for bread.

So, he searched long and hard and finally settled on one of those tremendously long knives that you sometimes see at buffets where they are carving up entire legs of beef. That allowed him to slice three loaves at once, and, for a time, he was able to keep up with the demand. Oventually, of course, it got to be known that this guy was pretty hot stuff, and business continued to rise.

Well, you can see it coming. Once again, he was being overrun by orders for his hand-sliced bread. He was about to despair of being able to manage any longer, because he just couldn’t find a knife that was big enough to do four loaves at once. Like a bad cake, his spirits fell day by day.

However, one day, as he was disconsolately walking to work, he passed a butcher shop, and saw the butcher wielding the biggest cleaver he had ever seen. He rushed into the shop, exclaiming, “I must have that cleaver. What will you take for it?”

The butcher, putting up a beef, since it was his favorite cleaver, said sharply, “You can’t have this one. But, just go down to the butcher supply house. They’ll fix you right up, and you can go home and start cutting up.”

The baker was beside himself with joy. He knew that he would be able to put off buying an automatic slicer for just a little longer. He was so lucky to have found that Four Loaf Cleaver!

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