I don’t know if you have noticed this, but in every country you go to in the world, they have their own breads and bread eccentricities. It seems obvious, we all easily think of French bread, german rye, American bagels. But if you truly love bread, as I do (far too much as it turns out – I can see a direct correlation between the amount of bread I eat and the easiness of doing up my jeans), you notice the small things and it’s these things that you miss and crave when you move onto the next country/continent/whatever…
I won’t harp on about English bread here, except to say that it’s good, cheap and that if you want to pay for it, you can get excellent artisan breads almost anywhere, but it’s the ones in the markets that are truly exciting. But I haven’t lived there for 6 years, so that’s old news to me now.
When I was in Australia, I quickly found out about Turkish bread (which is specific to Australia I think, because if you ask real Turks about it, their faces are blank or they think you are talking about Arabic flatbreads). If you go to a sandwich store in Sydney, one of your bread options will be Turkish bread. Not unlike a Panini, it is a flat, sandwich sized loaf, easy to slice horizontally down the middle and great for toasting with the fillings inside. So excellent and I haven’t tried it for 8 years, but I remember it enough to discuss it here Aussies! I will try to find a recipe.
Unless you wanted Arabic or Indian style breads, the Middle East wasn’t great for bread. You could buy Western imported loaves for a 500% markup, or go to the artisan French bakeries in the sterile shopping malls, but there is something about buying food in that environment that never really got my juices flowing…
Gabon, Africa was a bread disaster, unless you liked the humble baguette, in which case you were set, They are cheap there and available on street corners, always fresh and delicious. But I watched a tv show once, that said that malnourishment in third world places was exacerbated by the plentiful cheap availability of white foods with no substance like white bread, which offered no nutrition and accordingly no value. That resonated with me and I have steered away from white breads and baguettes since then. Filling, but nothing to them. Empty calories.
And what of our America? Well, after 5 years outside the West, I was thrilled to come back and have all different kinds of bread available to me. The reality has been somewhat different. I am astonished to find that most loaves will knock me back around 5 bucks. And I am somewhat grossed out by the fact that most bread here has a sickly sweet taste to it, which I guess is attributed to the fact that they have 2-4 grams of sugar to every hundred grams. Nasty!
Finally though, I have settled in, I know where to get my sugar free bread, I know where to get my artisan breads. I still pay through the nose for them, but I have what I wanted and have missed for 5 years (except Turkish Bread, but they don’t make that outside Australia).
But if you’re on a budget, and you need to find ways to cut costs, you look at what you eat a lot of and what is expensive. Bread is high on that list and as an item I can make myself from very humble and cheap ingredients, I really have no excuse but to at least try it. I have often told Handsome that I can’t start making bread as I won’t stop. I try to limit my bread intake and I want to lose weight, not put it on. But resistance is futile. Last weekend, I bought a breadmaker and my whole life now revolves around bread recipes. I fear that the breadmaker is cheap, I fear that the yeast isn’t very good, but most of all I fear that bread will be the one food that defeats me. So we will start with bread… wish me luck!