Taking stock - June 25, 2012

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IF you’re of a religious persuasion, you might well believe man cannot live by bread alone.

Now, that may be true, but it doesn’t mean I’m not partial to a good crusty loaf, bloomer or the occasional barmcake.

Bread, like a good brew and institutional queueing, is a British obsession, which, I suppose, explains why so many of us are choosing to make the stuff at home.

And who can blame us?

After all there’s something a little disappointing about your average supermarket loaf, which has made me think sliced bread isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Not that making bread at home is an easy task.

And, much to the dismay of My Good Wife, it’s a rather messy one too, which means I’ve pretty much been banned from home baking.

It’s a good job really. I don’t have the patience to let my dough rise, or to let the finished product cool before I’m breaking out the butter.

I certainly don’t have the patience of the French, who take the art of bread-making to such a level, it’s enshrined in law.

The baguette is a true national institution – days in the making, moments in the eating.

I’ll admit, the morning bakery run is one of the true pleasures of a break on the continent.

Not that the loaf is any good past lunchtime – for that you’ll need to turn back to the good old British toastie loaf.

Perhaps the perishable nature of what those friends and colleagues who have invested in a baking machine call ‘proper bread’ explains why they seem to have such devices running at all hours of the day.

They’re engaged in a constant battle to have the next loaf ready before the previous batch has given up the ghost and gone stale, something which normally happens well before it’s all been eaten.

I’ve noticed Mother Dearest even keeps a secret emergency pack of sliced white discreetly hidden away, just in case demand outstrips supply.

That’s very handy when it comes to toast, for which ‘proper bread’ is of no use whatsoever, given that it only slices into doorsteps, far too wide for the toaster and is guaranteed to start falling apart, leaving nasty burny bits behind.

There, I’m afraid, the toastie loaf reigns supreme, unless, of course, there’s a packet of crumpets knocking about.

But, I’ll admit, when it comes to a butty, or a giant slice (butter, no jam) you can’t beat fresh, even if it is a faff to make.

That’s why the French, with a baker in every village and on every city block, have it right.

No need for a bread maker, or a jolly great mess and a guaranteed crusty loaf every time.

That kind of food revolution, well, it’d be the best thing since sliced bread.