The fragrance of fresh bread baking is almost as alluring as Scarlett Johansson’s Chanel #5 drenched panties drawer. No, not really. Absolutely not really, but it is still pretty appealing. (If you read an earlier version of this sentence you’ll note that I’ve made a change therein. I had made a ‘department of redundancy department’ gaffe and I fixed it.)
I love baking bread. I have a loaf on right now. Not on me; in the bread machine.
Unfortunately for me, a few decades of laboring at a keyboard – both typewriter in the early days when men were men, and more recently at a processor – have left me with a slight carpal thing. Not major, and not enough to make me go around whining about it as so many do, or collapse on the floor in excruciating agony should I attempt to knead bread dough, but I do notice it. It was with that reality in mind that I bought my first bread machine about two decades ago.
The early bread machines 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. In fact, our first one was shitty enough that I seriously considered giving it up as just another overrated gizmo of the type you see in late night TV commercials offered by guys with obnoxiously loud voices.
But, with time, machines have improved immeasurably. I am now on the 3rd one and it turns out perfect and tasty loaves every time. I won’t tell you the brand because it might 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 happily state that it’s a Black-and-Decker All-In-One,. Freelancers are whores by their natures..
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 90% of the bread we consume comes from it. I also am the breadman – and I am the eggman and I am the walrus, Goo-goo-ga-joob – 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.
Speaking of shit bread – and we were, you know – we were astonished by the price of basic and cruddy commercial bread in Hawaii a few months ago. Why is it so expensive there? I’d like somebody from Hawaii to tell me that. Either that, or I’m toying with the idea of getting a bread-machine franchise there. Of course, that’d mean I’d have to live in Hawaii. Yet, I’d be prepared to make the sacrifice.
But, back to the machines themselves and the prudence they offer the harried and increasingly impoverished householder. Too many are those 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 also 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.