There’s a reason I don’t keep bread in the house

I got a loaf of bread for my mom and had it in my house for more than 46 seconds and so I opened it and made a fried egg sandwich. I’d just eat the whole damn thing if left to my own devices. Peanut butter, egg salad, just plain bread. I’ll eat the damn thing in less than a day.

It was sooooo good.

I am so sorry Julia

Can you ever forgive me?

I have tried about 40 different ways of making French bread but somehow I never thought to ask Julia Child. She was there all the time. And it was the perfect loaf (almost). Cook’s Complicated indeed. Paul Hollywood, whatever. How did I not come to her first?

That I have not thought to try her recipe and method is astonishing in that I have all of her cookbooks, watch and rewatch her shows. I have read the books she wrote, the letters she wrote (collected in book form), the books written about her. I dream that I meet her and for some reason always thought I would meet her in real life. That did not happen. And I imagine I will not meet Jacques Pepin either. I am sure we’d have been friends. Julia and/or Jacques, I’m not fussy. Well, I am fussy but not about that.

The bread I made was easy enough. Relied on visuals rather than specific times and she explains things in an easy to understand way. It really came out nicely with a crispy crackly crunch like French  bread but the interior, called “the crumb,” was too dense. Not light and airy enough. It was delicious but just a bit off the mark crumb-wise.

There actually are some people I call “the Crumb” but we won’t get into that now.

You can watch her video here. I miss her.

Off my meds

I’m gonna goddam make a loaf of French bread that tastes like it was made in France if it kills me…or until I am forcibly committed whichever comes first. And you probably won’t have to force me I’ll go willingly, I’ll freaking skip into the asylum (but in a masculine way).

These are 2 different attempts using 2 different methods. One is Paul Hollywood’s method, the other Cook’s Complicated, er, Illustrated, well, America’s Test Kitchen anyway, same diff. Neither require a lot of kneading. One rises in a couche, the other on a French loaf pan. One uses a 6 to 24 hour proofed yeast, the other just yeast. One used “strong flour” the other just plain ol,’ They rest for different amounts of time but basically they are very similar. Both require steam in the oven.

And yet, they were pretty much the same and neither one is like a French baguette. They were good but no crispy, crunchy crust with a light and airy crumb, as it were. They both had a chewy crust and a dense crumb.

Get used to it. I’m on a mission.


Bread, it’s what for lunch

I ducked into a French bistro in Berlin to get out of the rain (rain is a constant apparently everywhere) but also to have lunch thinking that I’d be having at the very least some language interaction I could comprehend and at the upper end of the possibility scale, œufs mayonnaise, a popular (with me) luncheon item. I was disappointed on both counts. It looked French and it was called a bistro but it was German. Not that I was disappointed with the meal. It was bread. Who can be disappointed by bread. 

First there was beer which actually is just liquid bread. Grains, hops, yeast and water. Then, well, bread came. And I ordered panzanella, Italian bread salad. Actually it was listed on the menu as Ligurian bread salad but it was not that, what it was was arugula, cherry tomatoes and croutons. I’m fine with that even if it was a diminished version of what I had been imagining, and finally I ordered Berliner potato soup and it was good—covered in croutons—but they did not have the sliced white sausage that makes it Berliner, instead there was bacon. But that was fine. 

After all what could i expect in a French bistro in Berlin?


An early Christmas gift arrived last week from my friend Karen. She amazingly fedexed me an order of bread from the famous bakery Poilâne (please note the circumflex on the a, it took me a while to figure that one out) in Paris. It arrived on Wednesday. And when I say an order of bread, I mean enough bread to feed Napolean’s army in Russia. The rustic sourdough loaf is larger than a hassock and the rye bread is only slightly smaller. There is raisin bread, a nut loaf (probably hazel nuts, the French love those things) and a huge box of cookies. Somewhat forbiddingly called Punitions, a cross between munitions and punishment, they are lovely little butter cookies.

The bread bags all have calorie and nutritional information on them. You would never ever see this in France.

Now, I just need to find an army to feed.