Thursday, September 9, 2021

Vernon Mitchell

 It is here that we recognize and pay tribute to the memory of baker Vernon Mitchell who passed away this past Monday from a pancreatic cancer that took him all too soon. Vernon was a gentle giant, over 6'4'', long and lanky with a warm smile, great sense of humor, and an easygoing way about him. He was with the bakery only four months, but we with miss him dearly. He is survived by a loving family and friends.





Sunday, August 15, 2021

The next level now in getting past the superficiality of culture is knowledge, literature

"Literature must be the antidote to unrepentant capitalism."


(How do you balance this against the physicality of making things (like brewing, baking)?)

Mapo

 


Monday, August 2, 2021

Henry Miller

Bread: prime symbol. Try and find a good loaf. You can travel fifty thousand miles in America without tasting a good piece of bread. Americans don’t care about good bread. They are dying of inanition but they go on eating bread without substance, bread without flavor, bread without vitamins, bread without life. Why? Because the very core of life is contaminated.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Vitality

 I've been on an internship at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont and thought I would collect some thoughts on what makes good beer great, hopefully with some connections to bread and gastronomy more generally:

Unpasteurized beer is alive. By manipulating yeast cell counts, fermentable sugars, and temperature, brewers try to capture lightning in a bottle.

How should one talk about vitality? One might talk about beer quality from any number of angles. Just as a poorly roasted coffee bean will yield a coffee that is flat in the cup, the same would be true for beer (bad process usually equals bad flavor).

Great beer achieves balance and depth from a number of different factors:

Yeast strain

Attenuation

Sweetness

Bitterness

Hop aroma /aromatics

Carbonation

Crispness

Softness/Minerality/Mouthfeel

Temperature


The balance and specificity of execution necessary to deliver great beer oddly reminds me of this article on the commercial production of ketchup by Malcolm Gladwell:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2004/09/06/the-ketchup-conundrum



Literature and bread might be all we have in this postmodern world

tomato cheese bread trifecta

There’s something about pizza that is so essential, quintessential even, such that I think I will never go a month without eating it. What else can we say that we will not touch all the rest of the days of your life except pizza?

Friday, June 4, 2021

Beat the Old Lady Out

 Another woman told of growing up in Finland and of a particular cold winter day when a cow was slaughtered for meat. The mother in the kitchen stirred a vat of sliced onions in butter, and the girls one at a time rushed into the field with deep metal pans to catch blood gushing from the cow’s slit throat. The blood was poured over the onions, and then that mixture was transferred into their largest mixing bowl, along with flour and salt and homegrown yeast. Now the girls took turns kneading, palpating the ingredients with their chapped hands as if restarting a stopped heart, their shoulders bent with the effort, their mother reminding them that this blood bread would be all they’d have to sustain them in the cold days ahead, while the meat cured. “Beat the old lady out,” the mother called to her daughters. Beat out the cranky lumps until the dough in your hands is elastic, forgiving. Leave nothing behind, not a speck of flour nor smear of blood in the shiny bottom of the bowl.

https://www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/544/beat-the-old-lady-out

Monday, May 17, 2021

 Coronavirus gave us the opportunity to be the best society we could be. Let’s not lose it.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Madame Bovary

"And what should I do here gentlemen, pointing out to you the uses of agriculture? Who supplies our wants? Who provides our means of subsistence? Is it not the agriculturist? The agriculturist, gentlemen, who, sowing with laborious hand the fertile furrows of the country, brings forth the corn, which, being ground, is made into a powder by means of ingenious machinery, comes out thence under the name of flour, and from there, transported to our cities, is soon delivered at the baker’s, who makes it into food for poor and rich alike. Again, is it not the agriculturist who fattens, for our clothes, his abundant flocks in the pastures? For how should we clothe ourselves, how nourish ourselves, without the agriculturist? And, gentlemen, is it even necessary to go so far for examples? Who has not frequently reflected on all the momentous things that we get out of that modest animal, the ornament of poultry-yards, that provides us at once with a soft pillow for our bed, with succulent flesh for our tables, and eggs? But I should never end if I were to enumerate one after the other all the different products which the earth, well cultivated, like a generous mother, lavishes upon her children. Here it is the vine, elsewhere the apple tree for cider, there colza, farther on cheeses and flax. Gentlemen, let us not forget flax, which has made such great strides of late years, and to which I will more particularly call your attention."