“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight… Bread making is one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” – M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
There is more. Bread, like the spellbinding aroma it releases when it is baking and upon coming out of the oven, has significance that surpasses the confines of the loaf pan.
Even for those of us who have not grown up at a time when grandmothers and their daughters spent hours in the kitchen kneading dough and making meal after meal for a large family, we know the meaning of bread. Its significance echoes in our bones as if we had been there when ancestors shared a hearty loaf at a large, yet modest dinner table, perhaps with a bowl of stew.
“In the history of art there are periods when bread seems so beautiful that it nearly gets into museums,” said American writer and journalist Janet Flanner (1892 – 1978). Bread is a living record of history. It is so powerful that we suspect that even a child who has not yet attended school would sense this. Bread was shaped by great turning points in our history and has contributing to shape our history.
The first evidence of purposeful grain crushing dates to 8000 BC, when grains were crushed by hand with the assistance of a mortar and pestle. A grinding stone was developed around this time, in Egypt. Grain became a staple food sometime between 5000 and 3700 BC. The use of grain for food spread throughout Europe at this time, with Great Britain being one of the first Western nations to cultivate it.
1000 BC marks another turning point. Until then, breads were unleavened. The use of yeasts, attributed to the Romans, becomes common practice at this time. By 500 BC, the circular quern is developed and will remain the basis of all milling methods. This method remains in use today.
Bread has been a staple at the tables of the rich and poor. It has saved people from starvation and it has been used to unite when there was division. Bread, like pizza (and pizza is a flat bread, after all) draws forth our inherent desire to share. We share a meal, but more than this, we share our stories. This is how, throughout history, we remember who we are and decide who we want to be.
At the table, today, bread may appear to be the special treat that keeps the appetite in check while awaiting the main course, but it does more than this. Across cultures and beliefs, bread unites. It fills us. It replenishes. As we are replenished, so are we connected or grounded in the same place.
We like to think that the bread we serve at our tables before your chosen dish arrives is a token of gratitude. It acknowledges your need for sustenance and our appreciation for your presence. For this reason, though it is a long and demanding process, it makes perfect sense for us to make all our bread on the premises.
If, while having a meal with us, you taste a bread you especially like, take a loaf home. We have fresh white, wheat, maple wheat, rye, multi-grain, honey oat and cinnamon raisin loaves.
~ Eat Well.