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Bread Equals Life. How Important Is the Recipe?

Does anything taste more of home than the bread we ate as children? I miss it: I miss the hearty, slightly sour taste of the dark, moist Austrian Roggen- and Vollkornbrot, the whole mealy texture of the lighter colored Grahamspitz, the crisp crunch of a fresh, golden Semmel. (Sorry, no translations. They would not denote the same thing.)

Other countries and regions make good bread too of course. I think of the unsalted white breads in the area around Orvieto (Italy), hard crusted baguette in Normandy, Paris, and Beaune, and slightly bitter tasting pumpernickel slices in Northern Germany. They are delicious in their own way and always pair perfectly with whichever food is produced and eaten locally. It's just that to me these foreign breads are not the real thing.

Here in L.A. I often find bread too soft and too sweet, but there is a German bakery not far from where we live, which produces a rather nice kind of Mischbrot and Whole Foods Market sells some bread types that come very close to the baked goods of my Austrian past. Their pumpernickel loaves, Wolfgang ryes, and seeded whole grain breads are treats. I will go out of my way to buy them.

Bread: I hate to see it wasted more than anything else we eat; can't stand when children play with it. Bread is the quintessential food. It stands for that which sustains and nourishes us, for survival. Across the world and through the ages it is and has been a symbol for life. Does it really matter which recipe is used?


Lorraine Seal said…
Ah, brot. Ah, spuds.

We are having a hard time adjusting here these basics, the stuff of life, here in Austria. I’m like the Roggen- and Vollkornbrot, with their dense, moist and spongy texture. My husband dislikes them. I have to choose carefully, because he doesn’t like rye and he detests caraway seeds. Each week for sandwiches, I choose a baguette for him and a round olivenbrot me; I’ve come to find the texture is about right for me and I love the bits of olive in it.

The spuds represent a greater problem. In Ireland, people call potatoes by name; they have their preferences of type for each use and methods of boiling for each type. Here, we simply find the available potatoes awful. In Ireland, meal-like fluffy potatoes are the norm. Here they seem gummy and unpleasant. The texture makes sense when I consider how they are served here, frequently in vinegary potato salad or other preparations. But we miss the Irish spuds. In fact, we have guests arriving here from Cork next week. My heartfelt plea was to bring spuds.
Lorraine -

I share your feelings with regards to spuds - but I come from the other side. We miss the deep yellow, waxy potatoes that are grown in Austria and their intense, earthy flavor. If I can get them here it's in the spring as Russian Fingerlings. Mealy potatoes are great for mashing but as you say they do not hold up well in a salad, the classic side to Wiener Schnitzel.

As always, thank you for adding your own perspective. I love hearing from you and will head over to the new post on your blog now.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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