Wed 22 Dec 2010
Two years ago my doctor told me to cut down on my complex carbohydrates which, of course, I covet like a pirate his gold. So with my health in mind, I moved myself down to one slice of bread a day and one starch. And you’re thinking, what about cookies, muffins and scones, rice, bagels, and oats? I know, shocking. However, the real monster, the bane, the absolute siren of the carbohydrate world is, for me, homemade bread. If I could exercise some self control when it comes to lovely loaves of golden gluten I might only eat one slice but normally, that is not how it goes down…it goes down as the loaf! Alas, when bread is involved, portion control rarely makes its way into my consciousness; instead it lies half asleep in my subconscious, haphazardly ignoring all that is carborhydratesque until it too late. These episodes typically end in self inflicted guilt wounds and a healthy dose of rigorous exercise to exorcise the bread demons; penance, if you will, for my gluten gluttony. Forsooth, bread and I are destined forever to engage in an unsanctioned metabolic dance; we are star crossed lovers, the Romeo and Juliette of the wheat world. To eat or not to eat that is the question. Okay, enough with the yeasty drama and Shakespearian overtones. I refuse to be completely banished from my most rewarding culinary endeavor, baking bread. And like a wheat frenzied sadist, I bow to the bread every weekend and make it myself, from scratch.
Yikes! The word “scratch”. People are amazed when they discover I make my bread from scratch. “Not in a bread machine?” they ask. “No. I actually make it. You know with my hands.” Over and over again the response which I am hoping for: awe, admiration, amazement…is sidelined by downright plain confusion. “Why?”
I find baking bread to be a completely liberating experience. Although some would say it is the antithesis of liberating, all bound into rising times, measurements, and the finicky steps of preparing the dough, the process of making bread is quintessential chaos…at least for me it is. Flour everywhere, hands covered in dough, and frankly, I don’t care. This isn’t a photo shoot, or a contest. Martha Stewart need not apply. I don’t care about the mess, the dishes, the impending clean up that couples any culinary adventure. I don’t care if the loaves are perfectly round, even or shaped. The art is in the texture, the taste, the absolute heavenly aroma. When making bread, I just dig in and let go of all the “I shoulds” and immerse myself into the “what ifs”. In the end, regardless of looks, I find I have created something beautiful, something people love, something nurturing, something archaic and traditional. I love that, love being tied to universal sustenance…our daily bread.
Yeast or no yeast, leavened or unlevened, baked or fried, people understand bread. We have placed it at the very crux of many ceremonies, religious services and holidays. Challah, Vanocka, Jule Kaga, Hoska, Panetonne are all breads used to highlight a festive season or high holiday. They originate from all over the world and from many different cultures. I say, “ Let’s celebrate. Let’s share. Let’s break bread together.” I think you get my overall message here; ‘tis the season of peace and good tidings. Bread may not solve all ills of this world but it certainly sweetens the deal, and it sure is hard to argue with your mouth full.
To me homemade bread says, “I care. I took the time. I believe in goodness and community.” It is no surprise then that at the River Driver’s Restaurant our bread is homemade. A simple addition to every meal, our bread epitomizes our commitment to quality dining in the north. Of course, there is more to our menu than bread, but while we can wow you with our delicious entrees and desserts, our bread sets the stage for your eating pleasure. This holiday season we are wishing you peace, joy and good tidings. Make bread. Eat bread. Share bread, even it is gluten free or you can only have one slice!