I’ve gone a bit bread-mad. My day-to-day needs are generally met by buying a job-lot of pitta breads from the supermarket and freezing them, to defrost for the breakfast scrambled eggs/lunch-time salad/handy carbohydrate-dippers for a dinner-time curry, stew or casserole. But suddenly I’m buying big bags of flour, plain and self-raising, bicarbonate of soda, yeast. Testing the milk-curdling powers of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and cider vinegar respectively, for Irish soda bread. Sidling in and out of Holland and Barratt* in a cheap rain-coat, furtively clutching a bag of brown-rice flour like I’m in a vegetarian “Trainspotting”.
I haven’t even started on the myriad forms and styles of flat-bread yet. But I intend to, oh yeessss.
I suppose it’s understandable psychologically. A cooked, grain-based carbohydrate is the backbone of so many cuisines across so much of the world. The mediaeval trencher-bread, doused in venison stew, Mexican tortillas, hard sticks of traditional French bread, wraps and pancakes and cucumber sandwiches, crusts removed. There’s something very comforting about bread, it’s adaptable, filling, keeps well, travels well, and wraps up the flavours of other foods, from the watery green cucumber, to the hottest chilli, in a smooth, easily-digestible blanket.
It doesn’t take a lot of introspection to understand why now, of all times, it seems important that I know how to make it.
*UK high-street health-food shop