Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bread and seasons

Tucked away in a small street in the heart of old St. John's, a little bakery sprang up a couple of years ago, called The Georgetown Bakery, after the area of town it is located in. In fact, that area is one I know well as I lived there for a few months when I first moved back to St. John's after many years of living in Europe. The bakery is located in a residential street on Hayward Avenue, in a converted house with a tiny shop showcasing the efforts of the bakers and bakery ovens seen in the rear. Wooden floors, a basic counter and large wicker baskets of breads show what is for sale with a friendly local woman explaining the different types of breads, it is tempting to try them all - and I nearly always do.

I rarely eat bread anymore, but when I do it must be good, artisan bread, handcrafted and worth the indulgence. Georgetown Bakery has that bread. I stocked up today with a Belgian loaf, a wholegrain round, some bagels crusted thickly with sesame and poppy seeds and a chocolate and cranberry loaf that is only made on Saturdays. To find a true bakery in this town is often more difficult than anticipated, as it seems the population often prefers to buy their bread in a plastic sleeve from a chain supermarket. This drives up the prices of 'real' bread, but still makes it worthwhile in my estimation.

Fresh bread with flavour and texture, crisp crust and soft holey interior, warmed, with real butter melting into its warmth, is the food of the gods. It is an indulgence and one that I enjoy occasionally. I wish it could be an everyday occurance for me, but my metabolism thinks the other way and only provides me with the once a month luxury of real bread.

With the heat taken out of summer, foods and rituals arise again. An extra blanket is put back on the bed; firewood is stacked and cut waiting its turn to make warmth; the chickens shake their feet as they walk across the heavy dew on the grass as they're turned out in the morning; goldenrod is starting to show its blonde tresses all along the side of the road to the house and hides in fields and trails along with cornflower blue New York asters. Pearly everlastings stand like sentinels along the roadways, their papery flowerheads already dry to the touch, crinkling like stiff tissue to my touch. These are wonderful for drying, rather like ghostly versions of their coloureful cousins, heliochrysum (straw flower).

There is always something a little sad about the prospect of summer slipping away, but there are also delights in the coming seasons of autumn and winter that can take away the sting of regret at the loss of warm breezes and hot sun. Artisan bread is one of those delights. Throw away your mass produced bread and go out and find a local bakery making artisan breads. Or make it yourself. You won't regret it. Celebrate the seasons and the moment.

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Mary said...

Jeanette, your writing is so descriptive that it opened my sense of smell in this case. This bread looks so much like our mexican bolillos. Very nice sketch.

Jeanette Jobson said...

Thank you Mary. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I think over the world, some types of breads are very similar,just with different labels attached to them.

Beverly said...

Hi Jeanette!
I am so envious of your wonderful bakery and hope you realize how fortunate you are to have one so close. By the time I found one here in Northern Ohio, the bread would be stale by the time it arrived home!
We plan a trip to the Netherlands in two weeks and I am looking forward to wonderful breads and pastries. That and a savory cup of coffee is a highlight!

Jeanette Jobson said...

Hi Beverly, yes I am lucky to have a good bakery within easy reach. I envy you your trip to the Netherlands. I know you'll have a fabulous time there. Take lots of pictures, I'd love to see some old windmills.