helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

  • Music:

of bread and jam

There are people for whom eating is just something they do because it's necessary for survival. I feel sorry for them. For me, eating is a whole-body sensual experience - taste, smell, texture, memory... all of my senses come into my enjoyment of food. I know that something's very wrong when I can't face eating, and when everything I eat tastes the same. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with people who don't enjoy food, but I don't understand it.

How this is relevant is that I have spent two days craving bread and jam. Not just any bread and jam, either - but a freshly-baked white-bread bloomer with poppy seeds on top, and strawberry jam with real fruit but also loads of sugar. Just reading that description makes my mouth water. I actually don't like most bread at all - if it comes pre-sliced, in a pre-printed wrapper, with a "best before date" more than a day in advance, you can guarantee I won't like it. Oh, I might eat it toasted, but it's not real bread. Real bread comes from a bakery, not a factory.

The French understand this. It may well have been in France that I first tasted new-baked bread. In my childhood in the UK, there just weren't any bakeries. They'd all closed down to be replaced by supermarkets, and the only bread you could buy anywhere came from a factory.

However, I have many happy teenage memories of real bread. There is a hamlet on the main road from Brookwood to Guildford called Fox Corner. It's literally just a couple of houses and a pub - but it contains the Christmas Bakery, a place of legend. They delivered to my local independent supermarket three times a day, and you could buy bread less than hour after it had been baked. I'm not a morning person, but every day for a whole summer when I was 15 I would walk up to the supermarket to buy bread and buns for breakfast. It was a half-hour round-trip, but that didn't matter. I'd buy baguettes that were crispy on the outside yet soft in the mouth, and sticky buns that were like a sweet bread, rather than cake - practically no fat in them, just runny icing oozing over the top. People would queue up in the store waiting for the delivery to arrive.

University meant a return to fake bread - grotty bread with every slice the same size, shape and texture, and hard baguettes from the 24-hour shop that had been heated up and left to cool several times. Then, a few years ago, everything changed. The various chains here started putting real bakeries into their bigger supermarkets. A Waitrose opened next to Gloucester Road station where I could buy poppy-seed knot rolls still warm from the oven, and buns like the ones I'd had in my teens. Now, here in Kingston, there are three supermarkets in easy reach which bake proper bread several times a day. It's a luxury that I can afford no matter how bad my financial state. At 47p for a 400g bloomer, it'll last me a couple of days if I store it correctly. And the pleasure I get from eating real bread is unsurpassed.

I still haven't written my BiCon review, or put down some of the thoughts I've been carrying around with me for a while, but I'll get round to it eventually. Sometimes I find myself with feelings or memories so strong that I just have to put them down or burst, and this food porn was one of them.

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