The fragrance of fresh bread baking is almost as alluring as Chanel #5 in the cleavage of a lover and the anticipated delights to follow nearly as enticing. No, not completely so. I’m not that elderly yet.
But, I love baking bread. I have a loaf on right now.
Unfortunately for me, a few decades of laboring at a keyboard – both typewriter in the early days when men were men, and latterly at a processor – have left me with a slight carpal thing. Not major, but enough to make me collapse on the floor in excruciating agony should I attempt to knead bread dough. It was with that in mind that I bought my first bread machine about two decades ago, back when they were steam driven and you had to take pains to not get any coal dust in your dough mixture.
Truly that was a bit of hyperbole, but the early ones were pretty rudimentary and not entirely efficient. You sometimes ended up with bizarrely shaped loaves, or underdone loaves, or loaves that would act entirely differently each and every time despite the fact you were using the same exact recipe.
The machines have improved immeasurably. I am now on my 3rd one and it turns out perfect and tasty loaves every time. I won’t tell you the brand because it would look like I’m shilling for the company. However, if that same company would like me to shill for them and was prepared to pay me handsomely, I’d gladly do it. I can be bought. Freelancers always can. I am such a slut-boy.
While a bread machine loaf isn’t necessarily exactly the same as what might have come out of Grannie’s oven, it is an awfully reasonable facsimile with a tiny amount less soul than a labor intensive loaf of yore. I love my bread machine and all bread we consume comes from it. I also am the breadman – as opposed to the eggman or the walrus, indeed – and reserve the right to ponder assorted recipes or to devise ones of my own. That’s easy, too, since all bread has a basic proportional recipe, and then all you need to do is try some variations. A hint to the wise, raw rice doesn’t work worth a damn.
Making one’s own bread also makes one want to shun commercial bread. Our beloved local supermarket is one of those rarities with an in-house bakery that turns out fabulous bread. But, the loaves also cost nearly as much as renewing your car insurance, so you could hardly feed a family on them with much regularity. That leaves harried mothers of 8 kids reduced to buying what I like to refer to by the classic baker’s term – ‘shit’ bread. You know, that icky soft white crap with a half-life of a decade.
Bearing that in mind, and realizing there are many who in recent years have lost their jobs or are among the ‘McJob’ working poor who might be reduced to purchasing big loaves of shit bread, I propose that in the cases of every family falling below the poverty line that such households she be given state-subsidized bread machines. I’d happily contribute to such a charity. I’m quite serious about that. For literally, and with no exaggeration, pennies the kids and parents in such families could avail themselves of not only tastier but infinitely healthier representations of the staff of life. I mean, really all you are paying for is a bit of flour and a bit of yeast, small smatterings of sugar or cooking oil and you’re on you way.
I think the time is right for an international bread-machine drive.