Yesterday, I went to buy bread. I select my loaves with a point of the finger “that one and that one”. It’s handed over in a brown paper bag, I have a big jute bag with me and juggling money, purse, bread etc, the easiest thing to do is open the bag and have the bread placed in the bag by the woman serving. It’s a moment that transports me right back to my childhood and memories of my mother buying bread in paper bags. Opening her shopping basket, conversations with the women in the bakers who all knew her, knew me. The layout of the shop, it’s grey floor and glass counter. The smell and the warmth of soft white bread. Although, I’m buying very different bread, I can almost smell the bakery of my childhood.
A loaf of fresh bread makes a lazy dinner; bread, dips, olives, salads, that sort of stuff. It’s called ‘things on a plate’. I know, took me ages to think of that title. It’s an easy to prepare dinner for relaxed evenings. Fresh bread is good for the soul. It’s a basic food and there’s a comfort in that. I have vivid memories of the responsibility of going to buy bread on my own as a child. Carrying it back through the park, the loaf cradled in my arms, like a baby, the warmth of bread through the paper bag. The soft fluffy white texture of bread. We always had loaves, white bloomers. I craved white sliced bread, that seemed better, what the cool kids ate.
Proper bakeries seemed to disappear and at once re-appear in the shape of artisan bakeries, selling loaves in different guises and flavours. Home baked bread is great, if you’ve the time or the breadmaker. I still like to walk to fetch my bread. The pleasing simplicity of popping out to get a loaf of bread. Walking back home tempted by the smell of the loaf, trying not to pull chunk from the end and eat it. Of course, it is best if it’s warm. There is a criticism that artisan bread is over priced and goes off to quickly, but that’s the joy. It has to be eaten as soon as, because there aren’t loads of additives and preservatives. You pay for the fact that it’s been made by hand and not mass produced. I like that. My local bakery is Mark’s, on different day’s there are different breads; olive on Thursday. Beer bread on Saturday. Apparently, Mark went on bread making course for his 50th birthday, loved it so much, he gave up his career and opened a bakery. How nice is that? The power of bread. Sentiment, emotion, food, so closely tied to senses; smell, texture, taste. Yesterday morning, it caught me by chance. A slice of nostalgia in a busy morning. What food takes you right back to another place and time?