Lately it’s been early mornings and early bedtimes. In my new incarnation as a bread baker I rise pre-dawn, heave on heavy layers of wool and down and walk the 6 minutes from my house to the brand new bakery on the main street of town. The head bakers and I shrug off our coats and we are immediately to work. The huge bags of flour are lugged from the walk-in where they’ve been cooling to the prep table; scales, shovels, pans are at the ready.
Taking a quick glance at the first recipe, I double check my counts. Soon I’ll have memorized how many ounces of salt to how many pounds of bread flour but for now I check.
Yeast and water are added to flour then set aside. The yeast, still alive, has work to do. Our invisible employee.
Dry prepared, wet mixed, then baked, cooled, and finally, eaten. It’s such a simple act this bread baking. And yet…I’m finding myself reverent of it’s long history as humanity’s constant companion. One of the bakery’s best selling breads is the pain a l’ancienne which means bread of the ancients. So apropo. What is more a part of history than bread?
When we break bread together we are doing more than eating food. We are communing, with one another, with the source of our ingredients, with ourselves at the nourishment we are receiving. It is an essential act, to eat. But with attention it becomes an act of connecting to the world and our place in it.
It’s a lot of ask of a loaf.