I love bread. I have always loved bread. For my 17th birthday my mum gave me a copy of Elizabeth David’s tome ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’ and I was dead chuffed. I read it cover to cover, all 500-odd pages of it. So obviously I’m a carb-addicted nerd. I even used it to bake with, converting her complicated imperial measurements (a quarter of a gill anyone?!) into metric. I tell you, if they’d used recipes as an aid to teaching maths, I’d probably be a rocket scientist and not a girl with a liberal arts degree.
Travelling around Europe The Man and I have been passing comment on the quality of the bread in the supermarkets and bakeries and served with our meals in restaurants. Incidentally, we’re keeping tabs on whether the bread is provided free or set on the table and then sneakily charged for later; I know it’s a petty irk but it riles me. Either it’s a gift or it’s not. So far, Spain has had a poor showing, Lisbon was excellent but here in Serbia, bread’s practically a religion.
We were surprised in Seville that in all the bars and restaurants we were given a pre-packaged roll or basket of sliced baguette that was closer to Sao crackers than bread: dry and crumbly and with a really hard crust and not much use for anything. We thought perhaps it was just an economical solution, rather than having fresh bread going stale, but even the supermarkets sold the little cellophane packaged rolls by weight. I’m really not sure whether Spain has a culture of bread because Granada and Madrid weren’t much better.
Lisbon, by comparison, had phenomenal bread. The least promising looking bakery had large squashy sourdough rolls, full of healthy bubbles and dusty with flour. In the restaurants, it was a challenge to not eat all the lovely bread before my meal arrived. Even regular sandwich bread was satisfying; a cheese and salad sandwich one day was a complete meal because of the home-made wholemeal bread.
Here in the Balkans bread is the foundation of the meal. The Man’s aunty very seriously explained to me that bread is the staple and a meal is almost unthinkable without it. Check out the picture below of a typical lunch spread of roasted peppers, young cheese and bread.