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👀 Give us this day our daily bread
#362 | Born and bread to love
I've always loved bread.
I think it's something my father passed down to me. As a kid, my grandmother told me stories about his childhood obsession with bread and jam. For years and years, she said, that's all he wanted in his school tiffin box and as his after-school snack.
Around the same time, I learnt the song 'Do-re-mi' from Sound of Music, where the line "tea, a drink with jam and bread" conjured images of crunchy golden toast slathered with ruby-red strawberry jam. At home, I'd dunk a less-glistening version into Nestle's once-ubiquitous chocolate drink, Milo. The jammy bread softened in hot milk gave me the kind of kick I still look for (and seldom find) in exotic cocktails.
As the years went on, my love for bread only grew (like mould on sliced bread kept in the wrong refrigerator compartment). Sourdoughs, pitas, baguettes, brioches, foccacias -I adore them all.
Despite this adoration, I've never attempted to bake bread, excluding my scattered contributions to friends' bread-making endeavours, primarily because I don't like my fingers getting sticky.
What I do like about bread is its universality. And that you can enjoy it with pretty much any kind of food you like. No wonder bread is the most common symbol for food across cultures, especially when it's a question of fundamental human rights and dignity.
As 18-year-old Sukanta Bhattacharya said in one of the greatest Bengali poems ever written:
"We don't need the purity of poetry, Poetry, I give you leave -- In this world of hunger, everything is prosaic. The moon too, is but a burnt piece of bread."
Today's thing is Bread on Earth, a "site that houses work exploring bread’s potential as a social, political, economic, and ecological barometer." They have recipes, which are typically more than just recipes, a gallery of bread-centred art and photographs, newsletters and a resource library for serious people.
Grab a piece of toast or some leftover paratha from last night, and serve yourself a slice of Bread on Earth.