Tuesday, August 08, 2006

loaf affair

On our fridge is a postcard from my friend in Paris. Laid out on a white background are about thirty tiny photos of different kinds of bread. Loaf really is a many splendoured thing. There’s everything from the ‘baguette’ to the ‘pain de seigle noir’ (black rye). Some styles seem to be named after places or people and are probably regional specialties. Such as the ‘Tabatiere’ which is dusty and resembles a satchel and the golden ‘Courome’, eight balls fused into a ring. There’s the ‘Mauricette’ which looks like a zebra’s penis and the Cornetti which is shaped like a couple of sausages wrapped in a serviette, or maybe lovers under a doona.
Printed in small black type at the top of the postcard are the words "Le Pain".
"Le Pain in le cul, more like," I grumble as I start to mix up a new loaf. I am learning to make sourdough. There is no photo of sourdough on the postcard; maybe the French don’t make it? I mix the fifth loaf, my mind elsewhere. I forget salt and have to throw it in at stage two. The house is arctic and it has been raining, hard, for days. In the middle of an evening storm the icecream van jangles up our street, stopping for customers. What kind of person goes out in that kind of weather to buy icecream? I don’t expect the loaf to rise at all, but by the time I get up the next day, it has risen right to the edge of the tin and is starting to bubble its way over the sides. I preheat the oven but in the time it takes to get hot the cat has clawed open the kitchen door and let in a draft, and I watch as the loaf sinks down before my eyes. Damn, another demi-loaf. Still, I am quite happy with the taste and texture. It’s soft and springy and has a good, hard crust. Ah, le pleasure...