Saved this page from New York Times Sunday magazine. What was it about a slice of bread that was so compelling? That the shrinking, obsessively up-scale newspaper paid attention to an object from everyday life? Just a slice of a pre-sliced white, the kind my father described as "punk bread." He was good an naming things he disdained, ideas and objects favored by people different from him. It's a trait passed along that I must be cautious about in my judgementalism.
The article is part of a "Who Made That?" series in the Times. It is filled one page of odd facts that tie together many aspects of the influence of the industrialization of America in the early 20th century. Last year a social history, White Bread, by Aaron Bobrow-Strain (oh, people, why did you do this to your offspring; the hyphenated name is sure to create relationship problems) was published. [There it is-- the too judmenta...sigh]
"The sliced loaf becomes a kind of small, edible promise of a better world."
Much more interesting to me than recent explorations about cod or salt, I now intend to purchase it from Alibris for hardly any money (as the almost-free economy moves on). In a New York Times review of the book, titled "Against the Grain," there was further exploration of how problems of unsanitary public bakeries led to the business solution: industrialized bread. What would another review deliver?
Libby Copeland wrote a longer essay a harsher title, "White Bread Kills". Subtitled-- "a history of a national paranoia," she addresses the present-day "...backlash against white bread" and the growing interest in gluten-free products and increase in people receiving a diagnosis of celiac disase which afflicts one in 133. She points out that little is known about how gluten sensitivity may effect the majority of us.
In turn, there was another book also published last year, emeritus Canadian historian Harvey Levenstein's Fear of Food: Why we worry about what we eat. This one, as one food writer explains its message,
"...from the ‘germophobia’ of the 19th century to concerns about cholesterol and chemical residues in the 21st. Read this book and you’ll understand why warnings about the safety of your food should always be taken with a pinch of salt. (Just a pinch, though — too much could be bad for you.).”
Even though my results are not always edible--like this one (left) which looked much like the one in the book (middle), and filled with many good pumpkin seeds, I'm working on getting comfortable with major mishaps. The successful ones are always better than packaged and pre-sliced American white bread. In Mexico, similar product is Bimbo!
ADDENDUM Every now and then, not often enough, bread-making is enhanced by doing it with Zoe, our seven year old granddaughter. I have a sense that she is learning something that will be long gone by the time she has her own household.
Something grander than Google will speak to her about what the ancients once did in kitchens.