I Don't Think I Can Think of a Title for This One

I woke up this morning, haunted by the same question that had transformed sleep into an elusive spirit the night before: What should I do about my nearly unpalatable bread? Yeah I'm still harping about the damn bread--you got a problem with that?

I refuse to throw the loaves away. What a waste. I can't bear the thought.

If I pulverize the bread and funnel the crumbs into pretty glass bottles, they might make a nice gift of bath salts. What do you think? A steaming tub, redolent with the aroma of freshly baked bread. When I was enrolled in one of the big mistakes of my life called Architectural Assocation in London, our end-of-term project was "Breakfast"--don't ask; I'm still bewildered to this day--and I envisioned people steeping in giant cups of tea. I think it was a rather superb idea: tea baths. I'm sorry, we were heavily pressured to be absurd at that school. One of my teachers had neon pink hair and often taught class in a lederhose/barmaid outfit that kind of looked like a combination of these--she was forever exasperated with us and her favorite invective to bellow at our heads was that we were a bloody dull lot.

There was one redeeming point to my time at the AA. It was there that for the first time, I fell in lust with a man's single body part.

I'm referring to his neck. Oh dear god above, this senior student had the most sexy neck I have ever laid eyes on. The rest of him--eh. But with his back turned to me, I could not tear my eyes away from his nape. It was a sickness. It was beautiful. Elegant but strong, smooth, and curved just so, in a way that said "Hello!" to me quite distinctly. Hey, is a girl not allowed to have a few cherished memories from her youth?

Special note to husband: Honey, if you're reading this, the rest of him did nothing for me. Nothing! In fact, I found him decidedly unappealing when he opened his mouth and spoke.

I did come up with one solution to make my bread more endurable: For lunch, I soaked a few slices in a generous egg bath (no extra salt added!...Hmm, egg bath) and then made french toast with my Vitantonio hot sandwich maker, which is hands down the simplest, least messy way to make perfect french toast--i.e., puffed, crisp, and golden on the outside, tender inside. Not bad, except that I actually find fluffy white bread makes the best french toast--crusty, hearty whole wheat does not.

Still, it wasn't awful. But can a person really eat two entire loaves of savory french toast? And despite the salt being diluted by the egg, would I still technically be consuming an alarming amount of sodium that might lead to a severe stroke 40 years down the road? And if I continue in this delirious, pointless fashion, will I lose you, dear reader, forever? Perhaps I could wheedle a little tolerance from you with the admission that I missed two nights of sleep this week working overtime. I think I'm going to stop now.

I leave you with a closing image of tonight's dinner: natto makizushi. Fermented, slimy, gossamer thread streaming goodness. Drool--oh wait, no, that's the natto.

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Wow, French toast in a sandwich maker. That's genius!
I have never been obsessed by a neck.. but I have seen some really lovely hands. :-) 

from jessica

5/21/2005 01:07:00 AM  

Heheh...thanks for another great read! Sorry to hear about your bread. I had many such disappointing experiences as well and i too was the one who had to choke down the remainders. T_T; But you could maybe dry them out and use them as croutons or crumble them into breadcrumbs and use them in recipes. ^-^ 

from Tea

5/21/2005 05:00:00 AM  

Had a good chuckle with this post Rachel. In Portugal we have a recipe for stale bread: açorda (read "assorda"). It is the queen of leftovers (in Portuguese açorda is feminine). Anyway, in a pan you put about 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil, one chopped onion, garlic if you want, some tomato and let the whole thing cook gently for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile get 6 or 7 slices of stale bread and add water to soften. After about 5 minutes, with your hands press the excess water out of the bread and add the mushy bread to the pan. Mix. The texture will be similar to porridge. You can add leftover protein to flavour and you can add veggies.

You can also try bread pudding.

Portuguese have countless ways of using stale bread because we do not like to throw away bread. I remember that when I was a kid, if I did not want the rest of my sandwich (and it had to be a very small bit for my mother to allow me to throw it out) I was supposed to kiss the bread as if asking forgiveness before dumping it. 

from Ana

5/21/2005 07:46:00 PM  

Jessica, yeah, not to toot my own horn but I also feel my idea of french toast in the sandwich maker was a stroke of "genius." Grin.
I definitely like a nice pair of hands as well. I think if you had seen this guy's neck (well, just the nape, technically), you would have understood.

Tea, thanks so much for the suggestions. Yeah, maybe I should make a great big gratin with a bread crumb topping.

Ana, you're a lifesaver--or a breadsaver, as it were! I will give açorda a try--is it considered soup?
I loved how you had to kiss the bread. But do the Portuguese love bread *so* much or is it more a distaste for wasting food?  

from Rachel

5/21/2005 08:31:00 PM  

perhaps another tip from the portuguese: when they need to rehydrate salted cod, they soak it in milk. perhaps you can try soaking the bread in milk, squeeze in dry, then use it as a base for something like fishballs or meatloaf. mix the soaked bread with flaked fish (uh, salted cod would be great--or salmon or tuna), some chopped herbs and veggies, a little egg as binder, then deep fry them or bake them. you can serve it with a traditional english bread sauce  made from more of the soaked and squeezed bread. 

from santos.

5/22/2005 08:48:00 PM  

Rachel, it is not only that we Portuguese love bread, but I also believe that this custom has its roots in Roman Catholicism. For Catholics the wafer taken in Communion is basically flour and water, same as bread (well bread has a leavening agent). The kissing before throwing away was meant, I believe, to treat all bread with the respect it's due. After all bread is a stapple of life and we should always prepare only what is going to be needed instead to too much and throw out (especially when so many people don't have enough food)...I'm sure you've heard it before.

Anyway I thought it a quaint custom although, I have to admit, I did not pass it on to my children. 

from Ana

5/23/2005 03:23:00 AM  

Hi Santos, are you Portuguese too? Or was that just a Portuguese tip? Oh, fishcakes and meatloaf are both great ideas. Thank you! I must say, although the soaking in milk thing makes a lot of sense, perhaps I *slightly* overexaggerated (as in my wont) how salty my bread was--was it the whole bath salts thing? It is bad enough to be inedible on its own. But if I cooked my bread with other things and omitted the addition of extra salt, it would probably all balance out.

Ana, ahhh, I see. Well, I certainly agree that bread is something that deserves respect. Thanks again for sharing that custom. I like the sound of it very much.

from Rachel

5/23/2005 12:41:00 PM  

hi rachel! no, not portuguese, but i've been doing a lot of research about the portuguese influence on asian food throughout history. i like the idea of bread bath salts. you could probably market that as a carb alternative and make a mint. 

from santos.

5/24/2005 01:37:00 AM  

Hi Santos,

Are you doing research just to satisfy a personal interest? Sounds fun!

Heh, glad you like my bath salts idea. I only worry that they might clog up the drain.  

from Rachel

5/27/2005 06:15:00 PM  

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