Daily Archives: July 21, 2011

On Bread

I made bread yesterday.  And cookies.

I know.  Baking when it’s 41C (that something like 106F, for you fahrenheit people) with the humidity, why was I turning on the oven??


But it’s something I do.  I’ve been baking bread since I was about fifteen, off and on (but mostly on), and it’s something I watched my mom do when I was little and we lived in the Maritimes and she’d do it every week for both us and the farmer’s market where she had a stall (bread, fresh produce, and bouquets of marsh flowers, fyi).


I love that bread is alive (even though, of course, you kill it when you bake it).  I love it because it’s such a huge staple food — the way rice is in just about every part of the world.  The staff of life.


I’ve got a cook book called Laurel’s Kitchen (I’ve got the original, which was given to my parents before I was born, but I’m linking you to The New Laurel’s Kitchen because it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay less expensive than the original) and, while I definitely don’t agree with all of its politics, I love the way it talks about bread as a living thing that nurtures the makers/eaters on multiple levels.

It does.

When I bake bread — most of the time, anyway — I feel like I’m doing spiritual practice. My deities are those of hearth and home and harvest as much as they are of meadow and moon, sun and ground and crossroads. So when I take flour(s), warm water, honey and yeast, salt and oil and (sometimes) milk and eggs, and turn them into a living dough that I then turn into an edible substance of deliciousness… I’m working with the flesh of a number of my deities, and I’m doing something kind of akin to magic (sort of like alchemy?).

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why so many people (even now, when most of the folks I know do their own kitchen alchemy, making pickles or jam or paneer) react with “You make your own bread??? From scratch???” when they find out.
Other times, I figure they react like that because, no matter how easy bread-making actually is, the theoretical time-consumption and physical work is… a little intimidating if you haven’t tried it before.

Anyway. Those are just some very scattered thoughts on bread. Here. Have a poem:



Anyone who tells you
is a science
is lying
or misinformed

Oh, sure
if you follow the directions
to the letter
(six cups of flour
a tablespoon of yeast)
you’ll get something to eat
it may even be loaf-shaped

But it won’t be Bread

Because Bread is an art
The art
of making miracles
from scratch

It is breathing
back into the dead
(desicated bodies
the blood of trees
even stones)

It is taking what you have
whatever you have
mashed potatoes
and turning it
and turning it
and turning it
by fire and life
and the work your hands
you have turned it
into something new

is an act of worship

It is the art
of making love

like flesh


Meliad the Birch Maiden