Jeremy's picture

“Je vous ferai un pain si bon que ça ne sera plus un accompagnement pour autre chose, ça sera une nourriture pour les gourmands”

Raimu pour Marcel Pagnol dans “La femme du boulanger”

“I will make you a bread so good that that will not be any more one
accompaniment for another thing, that will be a food for the greedy
ones” Miche

Since I am usually poking in and out of forums, it reminds me of what a chef once told me “steal with your eye’s and your ears!” Is bread baking included in that endeavour?; chefs are a promiscuous lot, I heard an interview by a editor/author recently recounting his story of chefing with one NY’s celebrity chefs, Mario Batali(Iron Chef America) and so on and so on!I hope hill give me some of his precious time for an interview on my blog! Again I wander, I just started learning to write!

This August I will be going to Europe, the mother of many cuisines, most of the time will be in Switzerland, home of the cookoo clocks and chocolat!That is unfair, I had some real delicious dishes, but maybe too rich a fare for what I am used too ! When traveled to France and Germany there was a lot of food that was left to be desired in the culinary aspect, bread included!On this trip though I hope to meet up with a new friend from Dan Lepards forum, Mick, soon to be bread baker extraordinaire of “Bethesda”!Mick being a real important factor in my enjoying the renewal in bread baking at home and professionally, it’s the quality of sharing knowledge as well as ignorance that makes these new friendships important, no matter that they are going through satellites and cables globally!

Baking reminds me of what my mother would tell me of the communal hearth where she grew up in France, the stories about the butchering of animals, sharing with the poor and using all that the animal provided, everyones responsibility in the harvest.Being a chef today I realize that I learn more from reading and research than what others before me knew, we cooks today are not learning the way our past generations did, because of technological change as well as the lack of essential skills, like hunting or gathering like our ancestors,they no longer are a necessity, instead we are sort of like dissecting dead flesh and plating it for entertainment value, that is another subject! Bakers are still perhaps the only ones who still enjoy a practiced trade that actually brings them intrinsically in-line or lineage with what has been passed down through generations.Some developments like retarding are saving time and sleep and yet we are learning through taste and practice that those methods give a better taste for sourdough aficionados.As baker we are sort of in charge of our creations,within limits, we observe and determine through calculation an alchemy sort of like Victor Frankenstein and his creature, I am speaking more for the home baker here…..I witnessed some incredible trained professionals that could hear sounds of the dough, like Jeffrey Hamelman described to me in an interview. As another baker or knew the hydration wasn’t right by feeling the dough! One summer I worked for a bakery in New York, the baker was French from the Catalane region, being the son of a woman from provence you would think we could converse, forget it, the guy’s who worked for this baker, Marc, were all from west Africa, there French was clearer than his patois! The baking though was fabulous, he could cut and lift dough like no other, he tried to teach me, it would take many years of practice to cut these hunks of dough like he did! The sign that he was a “compagnon” was a medallion of France hanging on his neck held by a gold chain.Leaving America soon, Marc told me he disliked the big city and the owner, he wanted to return home, I kept asking for a formulas, having just gradutaed bread school I was anxious for more formulas, especially the garlic bread and Miche loaves, to my surprise he handed me all the spreadsheets for the bakery,”remember don’t open a bakery too close to this one” he said!

Steal with your eyes and your ears!


Bill44's picture
Bill44 2007 July 6
Jeremy, before you go to see Mick make sure you get some red wine, it will either be celebration or commiseration, hopefully the former.

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