I read this passage this morning and fell completely in love with Mr. Peter Reinhart.
Here’s my fantasy about the ideal loaf of bread:I gather the wheat, corn, rice and oats from a local field, then I grind them myself in a stone mill, make a dough by adding milk just taken from the resident cow or ewe and sweeten it with honey just extracted from one of many beehives that we keep to pollinate the fields.
Then I bake the bread in a brick oven fired by local hardwood and bring the still-hot loaf to the local holy elder for a blessing. After that, I share the loaf with friends, strangers and the poor.
This is bread. The consolidation of all that is harvestable and all that is good about life on this earth.Taken from the book, Brother Juniper’s Bread Book
by Peter Reinhart
Bread has really gotten a bad rap. With everyone so completely consumed with vanity and convenience, we have really forgotten about the beauty of simple things.
When Justin & I moved to New England, we had the perfect opportunity to look at our lives and decide what we wanted to change. The most important thing for me was to examine the relationship I had with food.
One of the criticisms I had about my relationship with food was that it was always so “hurried.” I paid for the convenience with my body and my money. All of the study I had put into the effects of mass marketing on a society; all the interest in social structure and stratification by convenience; the constant effort into learning the roots of our languages that, over time, develop our culture was just fluff because I wasn’t living it. Not all the way, at least.
And all this isn’t about bread. It’s about simplicity.
Home made bread is made from relatively simple ingredients. Sure, it can get complicated and fancy, but it really doesn’t have to. Your body process it more easily because there’s not a bunch of shit it has to figure out what to do with. The body says: salt! you go here! Wheat! break up and go here, here and there! It’s a simple situation. The body loves simple.
Like art, it’s also about process. That’s why some loaves are called Artisan. There’s another line in Brother Junipers…
Every step that a machine can do in place of hands makes the bread easier and cheaper to produce. At some point the bread becomes simply a commodity rather than a work of art or craft.
The process of putting your body into the food you eat is what makes the food special. The improvement on taste is simply a bonus. And believe me, there are few breads I’m willing to buy any more, none of which come from corporate box grocery stores.
It’s the need to knead. The extra dough saved. The slice of life, most literally.