I have all these idyllic ideas about agricultural life pre the industrial revolution. It was a time when things were simpler, and everyone picked their own wheat and made their own bread and read books together at night like the Bennet's. It all seems so much better than the industrialization of our modern Western world complete with the chemical fest that is commercial farming and Pokemon Go, which I have to say, is destroying my hope for humanity. As I dodge the crowd of adolescent zombies walking through our downtown streets staring at their screens and running into me, I become worried that we are all that Ray Bradbury predicted and Pokemon Go is exposing this tragic truth.
Then I made my own bread. For weeks I woke up in the morning and scooped from my starter some globs of what looks like pancake batter and placed it in a new bowl with fresh flour and water, this is feeding my starter. Then I wash the bowl, which inevitably takes twenty minutes due to the concrete hold the starter has on the glass, but it’s the price I pay to be granola. A quick note, it should be said that the term granola needs a positive connotation I am not ok with all the hate. Then the day came where I used a bit of my little starter I’ve been growing and added flour, water and salt to make my dough!
At this point the idea of bread making was still very romanticized, I was just a little 1950’s housewife swept off her feet by sourdough. So every thirty minutes for four hours I went into the kitchen to turn my dough, which is sort of like kneading it. After the four hours of rising I got to shape my dough into a round loaf. This is where things took a turn. I’m not going to try and explain the catastrophe that was the dough shaping, I would rather let you imagine pouring a bowl of thick pancake batter on your counter and trying to get it into a ball without it sticking to your hands. Trever happened to be munching on some chips standing dangerously close to the counter while I was in the middle of this process and asked innocent questions that almost made my head explode, so I held up my sticky batter hands and yelled, “no it’s not supposed to look like this.” Woah, I lost my 1950's housewife cool for a second.
Another four hours I waited until I got to transfer my globby sticky mess into my dutch oven where I was meant to cut small slices in the dough so it would rise properly. It was at this point I was fairly certain I had failed. Imagine again with me cutting slices into weak, wet, batter…it’s like, what’s the point? So I aggressively jammed the knife into the sorry lump and huffed at the calamity of it all. Then it baked and came out like a very heavy and dense ball that resembled, in some distant way, bread. I think Trever felt a bit of panic over the failure of my day-long baking saga that went south. I know this because when I squeezed the bread it’s supposed to make a crunching sound and when it kind of did he got ecstatically happy and congratulated me on my feat of accomplishment. “Ooh yum, it tastes just like sourdough. No the texture is fine. Ya it’s a little dense but I LIKE IT. Ironic how I just started a diet huh? No bread for me, but good job babe!” What a dear.
I realize now, that if I were to somehow travel in time to the days prior to the fabulous and brilliant industrial revolution, I would have spent all my days surviving. You just spend the whole day making bread, and then you eat it, and that’s it, because all you have time to do is make bread because it is so damn hard.
But I do not give up quite so easily, so I made bread a second time and it was much better. I brought it to my sister’s house and we all ate it with cheese and celebrated the bread, something I will never again take for granted. The irony is my dramatic improvement on round two was thanks to You Tube bakers who showed me what to do, thank God for the internet. Ray Bradbury had no idea what he was missing.