During my lifetime I have waded through an ocean of tears and suffered more disappointments than the Atlanta Braves bullpen.
I don’t need another problem. What I need right now is some help – from the good folks at Martha White Flour.
Martha – like Elvis – has left the building. But I was certain she left behind some corporate offspring who were ready and willing to lend a hand and solve my problem.
First, a little background.
Ever since my grandmother stopped dipping flour out of a wooden barrel, our family has depended on Martha White self-rising flour.
My grandmother used Martha White flour to make oversized delights she called “cat head” biscuits. She basted them with lard before they went into the oven, saying, “Nothing browns like lard.” She was right.
Martha has been a welcome guest at the family table for more meals than I can count.
Since Martha White Flour with Hot-Rize sponsored the Grand Ole Opry, we figured Martha was just like us. She was good. She was reliable. She was Southern.
We considered Martha White Flour with Hot Rize almost as trustworthy as the King James Bible.
According to corporate propaganda, Hot Rize is something the Martha White folks invented. It was guaranteed to make your biscuits rise like Lazarus, blooming into a picture-perfect batch of tall, proud mounds of flaky, golden goodness.
The other day I wanted a biscuit and decided to bake a batch.
I’m not good at rolling out dough so I made drop biscuits. I dumped some salt, sugar, baking powder and Martha White Flour into a bowl. Then I stirred things up, cut in a stick of butter, drizzled in some milk, dropped blobs of batter on a cookie sheet and popped everything into the oven.
Fifteen minutes later the oven timer went off. I couldn’t wait to eat a hot, fresh biscuit. I’m still waiting.
The things that came out of my oven were baked, but they sure weren’t biscuits. They were the size and shape of pancakes, only uglier. Frisbees are cuter.
Bad biscuits? There was only one explanation: bad flour. I got on the phone looking for explanations – and apologies.
My call was routed to a guy named Earl. When I told Earl my biscuits were too flat to fill Martha White’s training bra, he put me on hold while he did some research.
Earl finally came back on the line and said he’d been informed that my biscuits had probably suffered from atmospheric fluctuations caused by climate change.
Before I finished cussing, Earl switched me to Amanda in the legal department. After I explained the problem, she asked if I was using Martha White’s self-rising flour.
“Of course,” I said. “What else y’all got? Martha White means self-rising flour.”
She told me that in addition to its famous Hot Rize product, Martha White made an all-purpose flour that requires the addition of baking soda to make the dough rise. She said the world’s finest chefs prefer all-purpose flour and use it for everything but biscuits.
She said I probably picked up a bag of all-purpose flour by mistake.
Maybe so, but that’s a mistake I shouldn't have to worry about. I’ve never trusted politicians and movie stars, but I never dreamed Martha White would let me down.
Low-rise flour? In my book, low-rise equals low-rent.
I may sue for breach of biscuit. While I think it over I’ll treat my broken heart with a big dose of grits. That’s one Southern delicacy even Martha White can’t mess up.
(Alex McRae is the author of “There Ain’t No Gentle Cycle on the Washing Machine of Love.” He can be reached at: email@example.com.)