Becoming Bread

"Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one." – Nikoli Berdyaev

Stick–to–itiveness is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it's hard or unpleasant.

When I consider the small marvel we call bread, I want to ask, "How is it so?" Is bread's substantiation a quirky accident orNature's way of saying, "Here you go, eat this, and stop complaining!"

Perhaps we should look more closely at how bread becomes bread. How is it that this plant we call wheat (a grass actually) has delivered us to this current level of domestication? The wheat berry, in particular, wants to become bread. With a hand full of freshly milled organic whole wheat flour, add water, cover and let it sit out for a few days and if you're lucky, voila! You may have created an active culture that will leaven a loaf of bread for you. You see, the beneficial bacteria are already present on the surface of the grain. Is there some tacit imperative that the wheat berry mutters in your ear and says, "Hey, I want to become bread!"

The bread making process, which on the surface appears simple, belies a hidden complexity. It's the empirical inquisitiveness of the baker that initiates the process. Relentless curiosity bordering on obsession comes closest to portraying the baker's life. Maybe "obsession" is too strong a word. It's the single-mindedness of the baker that characterizes the relationship one acquires with bread making. It keeps you going back for more. You ask whether the next bake holds the promise of perfection. Only if you return with determination–so let's call it "stick-to-intuitiveness."