| Cyril Hitz called my book a love letter to flour, so I thought I should send a Valentine! Pancakes were my first devotion, the first food I made by myself, and the first food I made the lover I married. My mild obsession with pancakes went into overdrive when I learned about fresh flour, and that led to The New Bread Basket. I haven’t forgotten pancakes but sourdough has caught up in its lovely storm. |
As I dive into sourdough and bread, I’m thrilled to meet so many fellow devotees. I didn’t have partners in my passion for pancakes. Happy eaters, yes, but I was alone in my fascinations and didn’t have the chance to talk shop. There is no shortage of people enchanted by sourdough. The magic of natural leavening makes you feel connected to something bigger than your life.
This liveliness kills the dead metaphor of breaking bread, even though our bread systems are pretty broken. From individuals fearing the daily loaf to actual cells rejecting gluten molecules, to supermarkets creating more “artisan” loaves than the emergency feeding system can absorb – the fractures are many. Food pantries can’t access enough sliced bread because factories have trimmed their waste, and farmers struggle to make their businesses economically viable in a yield-based global commodity market.
Yet as many problems are there are with bread, bread makes change from the ground up. I’m exploring these changes more deeply, working on a project to tell the story of Wide Awake Bakery, part of the farmer–baker–miller trio in the first chapter of my book. This year I’m also focused on women in grains. Please look for my profiles on Instagram and Facebook, and audio interviews on my website. In April at the Asheville Bread Festival and with Slow Food NYC, I’ll be leading discussions about women innovating regional grain economies.
I probably won’t make any special bread for Thursday, because bread is an everyday love for me. But I am remembering the Valentines I made with my mom. She had a box with paper doilies and Valentines from all eras we could use to make collages.
Bread is like that box: a collection of recipes that are postcards from time. The potential of flours, methods and styles of bread – we can pick and choose from all of these elements to connect with traditions and make collages. All of them say I love you.
Your flour pal, Amy