The value of bread

Whenever we go out to eat, we don’t think twice about paying for water, but we expect bread to be free. Why is that?

When we eat in a restaurant, we don’t think twice about paying for fancy bottled water, but we expect bread to be served free of charge. Why on earth do we make that distinction?

Water is big business. Pure, ‘natural’ water in a sleek bottle with a well-designed label could easily cost as much as 12 euros. There’s no hard labour involved in bottling it from a spring, and local tap water often tastes just as good... But water is priced according to its perceived value, not the effort it represents. It’s just good marketing.

Similarly, many different types of cheese are sold worldwide, from soft, fresh, mild varieties to sharp, crumbly, tangy wheels: young, old, mature, fermented and more. Do you know the difference between young cheese or sharp cheese when you’re buying a wedge of Gouda? It’s exactly the same cheese, but the wheel has been allowed to ripen for longer. The added time involved in its production makes it more expensive.

The same goes for bread. Any bread that’s made with sourdough represents more value. Yeast-based bread involves a simpler process from flour to loaf. Baking sourdough bread takes longer and is more difficult, and the result has more flavour than regular bread.

Whether we’re talking yeast or sourdough, bread is a labour-intensive food. The farmer sows, cultivates and harvests the wheat, the miller mills the grain into flour, and the baker turns that flour into bread. All that work, and we see bread as no more than a backdrop for that nice, sharp slice of cheese. Bread deserves far more respect than that!

Comments

I watched the program "COOKED" presented by Michael Pollan on American TV and his segment about AIR was all about Sourdough bread. I had never understood that wild yeast bread was so different than bread made with commercial yeast. After tasting my first loaf that I baked after considerable study and the help of the Tartine book, I now understand the difference! WOW....I'm hooked for life!

"Cooked" is a brilliant documentary!! and I am also hooked for life.