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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

I am the Bread Man

BBC World Service - The Food Chain, I am the Bread Man

"[On modernist bread] Bread is a food that essentially every culture has at least some version of. And what we eventually decided is that bread is a grain based product, which is microbially leavened.

So that lets out muffins and scones and biscuits and so forth. Those are chemically leavened. It lets out things like chapatti or rotis - those aren't leavened at all... A croissant is microbially leavened and it's flour...

The boundary between a bread and a pastry is a very soft one. So for us brioche is a bread, croissant is not...

Bread has become unnecessarily trapped in time... all the result of events he believes that unfolded in the 20th century with the industrialization of bread...

'To many [the baguette] conjures up an image of long French village baking traditions. Not so. This is very much a 20th century urban bread.'

'In fact, you can kinda tell from the size. A baguette in France is typically 250 grams. Now, in the 19th century, bread was a major source of calories. In order to survive on nothing but bread, you need to eat half a kilogram to a kilogram per person per day. You don't come home with itty bitty baguettes. In fact, the loaves of the 19th century were huge... 1840s... smallest loaf he had was two kilos.'...

'First ciabatta was baked in the 1980s. We know this because the baker who invented filed for a trademark on it.'

'In fact, ciabatta wouldn't have been possible without abundant access to flour from modern wheat varieties and imports into Italy from Canada, the US and Ukraine. It's a brand that was built on high levels of protein.'...

'It's an invention that was marketed like it was this thing of the past where people have to ascribe a provenance that's false... admit that actually we have the best breads in the world. Golden Age of bread is now'...

'There are people who are very upset about our modern food system, and I understand why they are, but you have to have a look in the context of, for thousands of years, we were obsessed with efficiency and making things cheap'

'And avoiding starvation and the risk of riots'

'The US department of Agriculture did this great study we found which broke down all of the different costs that go into a loaf of bread. And it turns out that the farmer gets five cents out of a typical loaf of supermarket bread. And my guess is that would be very similar in this country. That's the smallest wedge in the pie chart.

The plastic bag costs about as much as the grain did. Advertising, more money than the damn grain cost. Transportation, more. Finance and insurance about twice as much.

We the consumers bear some responsibility. It's temping to point at them, but unless we're willing to pay more for it, which we are with coffee or with wine or chocolate. I'll give an example, in restaurants, some restaurants start charging for bread. People get mad, they say: no, bread should be free. You have to give it to me free.'"
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