The beauty of crusty bread.

August 13, 2015

This is a safe place, the kind of place where you can express your love affair/obsession/addiction with the demon carb, bread. It’s ok, I’ll go first. Hello, my name is Kate and I’m addicted to crusty bread.

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These days people are scared of bread because of the demon gluten but really, when bread is made honestly and thoughtfully, it’s not at all scary or horrible for you, and it’s damned delicious. The best of breads you smell before it even reaches the table, and when it does it’s warm to the touch. It is light and airy, not dense and elastic like sandwich bread. The crust isn’t the kind that kids cut off and discard. It’s a chewy shell that gives way to a soft inside with pockets of air; a sign of a good loaf.

There are many things to do with a crusty piece of bread, all of which are experiences in themselves. Soft salty butter is the perfect accompaniment. Or maybe a bowl of oil with dots of sweet balsamic, flecks of red pepper and salt granuals. Plates are made to be mopped with a chunk of it like a soft sponge. Red sauce after a bowl of pasta, juices from a choice cut of meat, or the dregs from a bowl of soup. Antipasto plates scream “make me into a sandwich!” as you stack tangy salami, sweet roasted peppers, and soft, pungent cheeses onto the bread receptacle. And don’t even get me started on bread bowls.

Bread is temperamental to make and chefs train years to perfect it. Those who understand the science of bread-making are gods among men. The best starters (also known as Mother Dough) are ones that have been used for decades, fed concoctions of yeast, sugar, or sometimes even strange things like almost rotten mushrooms. That ever growing blob of gooey gluten will eat whatever you feed it, and it will give you a unique flavor, the kind that gives sourdough it’s tang.

Bread gets a bad rap, and it’s not breads fault! It’s people who over consume that are the problem. So my advice to you is to throw away all that bread garbage you have in plastic bags in your house, if you want to give up bread. But God help you, if you are in a restaurant and there is a fragrant, warm basket of crusty sour dough bread in front of you with a ramekin of sweet butter or a bowl of rich oil, you better eat that bread. It will be the most honest and delicious bread you’ll eat. Appreciate that fact; you won’t be able to buy that experience in a bag.

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