Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Gospel of The Bread

I'm remaking my blog. It started out as a food policy wonky sort of blog, but as I read more and more true food blogs, I realize that that's where my heart lies. So I deleted all my posts except for this one, because this is from my Isolated Foodie heart and it's a keeper. I might throw in a policy post here or there, but really, it's now about the food.

It won't have many restaurant reviews or dishy posts about wandering markets. I only have four (maybe five, if you want to count a stand-up take away place) restaurants to choose from in Isolationville and its one and only neighbor. None of them inspire poetic description. I do occasionally leave Isolationville; when that next happens, you can be sure I will catalog every food-related moment.

In the meantime...here is the one post left standing from my original blog:

There probably isn't a bread baker with internet access anywhere in the world who hasn't heard about the no-knead bread from the NYTimes or watched the video. After all, a Google search turns up 566,000 related pages and the video, one version of it, has been watched over 11,000 times. But I'm going to sing its praises anyway because it is especially wonderful for those of us living in Isolationville.

I've now made The Bread many times, and am just waiting for my ten pounds of King Arthur flour to be delivered before making the next batch. I love it. It works every time, even when I messed up and forgot which way was up when I slung it into the pan. After baking it several times in an improvised pot/lid combo, I even bought a pot just for The Bread on Ebay. I'm used to the concept of no-knead bread; my several-generation family bread recipe is another no-knead version. But the crust on this is like none other that I've managed to achieve in a home oven. With every loaf, I continue to be amazed that it came out of my lowly oven.

The naysayers I've encountered question the value of creating a bread that you "can buy in any grocery store". It's true: most big chains now carry brands like La Brea that are baked right in the store and are, indeed, quite tasty. Here in Isolationville, that's not an option. Some of the time, our store doesn't have any bread at all (I swear it's true), much less an artisan-like option.

But even in the land where good artisan bread is available on every street corner and every farmers' market, there is still good reason for making this bread. Artisan bread is expensive. The Bread is not. Even though food costs are high in Isolationville, I figure that each loaf costs me about 65 cents to make. I buy my yeast in bulk and that's the only ingredient that can be costly per unit. We usually make The Bread the centerpiece of a meal or take it as a very welcome addition to a potluck, so we showcase it. I've even bartered with a loaf of it. I've introduced several friends to The Bread. I know of at least four family members who make it on a semi-regular basis, and I gave the recipe and directions to the woman next to me on a plane as we taxied to the gate a few months ago. I believe in The Bread.