It’s no secret: I’m seeking pathways out of the mess that is the typical American diet. In November I stumbled upon the documentary How to Cook Your Life and was immediately intrigued by the idea of bread making as a form of communion and meditation. A very kum ba yah notion for an agnostic like me to be sure. But when the Husband sent the two of us off to a bread making class at a nearby culinary center the meditative properties of this activity emerged. Like meditation, bread making is about concentration. Creating good bread – bread with the desired color, structure, elasticity, moistness and crumb – requires the maker to focus on the environment in which the bread is being constructed. Humidity, temperature, and the individual characteristics of each ingredient play a part in the quality of the finished piece; balanced bread is achieved when the maker has allowed him or herself to work in harmony with these variables.
Bread making as a communal act has proven itself in the months since our class. While the Husband is the primary bread maker, I am his ever-present audience. I love watching bread being made; I’m irresistibly drawn to the process. I love that he knows by feel when to incorporate more of an ingredient and that he decides only after the dough has developed what type of loaf it wants to be. It is gratifying when the fifteen year old emerges from her bedroom like a cartoon character floating out on a visible aroma and asks, “Is that Daddy’s bread I smell?” And I love when we gather around and share the bounty together like mankind has been doing for 30,000 years.
Besides all that, bread smells amazing and tastes even better (I cringe over the stuff we used to buy at the grocery store). And we appreciate the benefits of creating our own food. Yesterday the Husband very sweetly let me record him making next week’s lunch loaves. Our video, Bread, shows this four and a half-hour process condensed down into a playful 5-minute fast motion clip. Enjoy!