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It's not about the bread
I love bread.
I particularly love sourdough bread.
Once, in the mid 2000s, after a particularly good trade fair, Euan and I went to the London restaurant Moro to celebrate and I badgered the waiter to let me buy a loaf of bread to take home (£8 - 15 years ago! I must have been on a trade show exhaustion high)
Now, every week, pretty much without fail, I bake a loaf of sourdough. Sometimes I bake two.
But it's not about the bread.
If it was just about the bread then I would simply buy a loaf. Unlike 15 years ago, there are places locally where I can buy excellent sourdough for £3-50-£4 a loaf. (People go on about how sourdough is expensive and it truly isn't, it is just that we have been conditioned to think that bread should be cheap - a whole loaf, which will last a week, costs less than a small coffee and a donut ). It would be a straightforward commercial transaction and I would enjoy my morning toast.
But it isn't about the bread, it is about making the bread.
The pleasure is somehow about the routine and the connection and the sensory pleasure of making the bread. The simplicity of combining flour and water and salt and wild yeast. The kneading. The smell of fresh bread coming out of the oven, cutting the first slice, the feeling of plenty. Abundance.
I don't mean this in a 'domestic goddess' kind of way - my bread is made to a simple recipe with an even simpler technique. I have no call to improve or alter it, I do not want my bread making to become something I perfect, it isn't a competitive undertaking. If you take away the rising and the actual baking it is something I spend less than 10 minutes on each week.
The bread is something in my life that is removed from consumerism, away from competition - something that just is. A weekly magicking up of sustenance from simple ingredients.
It made me think about how many other things in my life, the best things in my life, have the same kind of feel - making soup, growing vegetables, arranging flowers, knitting blankets, mending - all done for the love of the doing, none sensible in a cost analysis way, the process more important than perfection.
It is something that I increasingly believe is a route to a more engaged life - a connection to a rhythm of the seasons, to materials, to making, to feeding people. It is something I am thinking about a great deal while I potter.
So what do you love doing that is as much about the doing as the result? That is away from consumerism and competition? Let me know in a comment.
I learned to bake sourdough with Kat Goldin at Gartur Stitch Farm - she runs workshops and also has a great online course for non locals!