Sourdough, Baby! An Experiment – Day Three.

Demi looks pretty content right now, she’s started to bubble up. She is also developing a rather distinctive smell which may or may not be a good thing, but is certainly interesting. I’m loving this experiment so far, I can only hope she’s loving it too! It’ll be a few days before we find out anyway…


Last night I played a little game of word association with my family. When I say ‘bread’, you say ‘?’. At the beginning, they were helpful as ever. Mum called out ‘bread’ – I could see this would need some explaining. Dad says ‘butter’. Ok – getting somewhere. This gets mum more excited – ‘Jam! Peanut butter! Cheese!’. Less helpful, now I’m just getting hungry. I pause the game for a second time and dad says something interesting: ‘but I don’t associate bread with anything. Bread is just… Bread! It’s elemental’.

Elemental. Elemental. I like that. It suggests bread is a force of life, that it deserves to be counted with Earth, Air, Fire and Water as one of the classical elements. Think about the magic it holds, as a foodstuff but also as a symbol. When I say bread brings us together, I don’t just mean around the table. It represents the circle of reliance that we all have on each other, bread symbolises an often-forgotten truth. We all need each other.

Just think about flour. We need the farmers who plant seeds in fields and put in the hard yards to grow their wondrous crops. We need the truck-drivers who transport the harvest, the millers, the people who package it. We need more drivers, more transport – we even need the grumpy supermarket sales assistant who unwillingly scans it through the till. And when we’re done with it, we need the bin-men who’ll come and recycle the packaging, the council members who work out the bin-men’s schedule, the people who voted those council members in. All this for flour? One of the simplest and more ubiquitous ingredients in the world? It contains the energy and work of so many people, all of us really, and it is such a privilege to have. We all rely on each other, in so many ways that we never even consider. Even just writing this, I am becoming more and more amazed how this one product essentially involves us all. That is just mind-blowing in its complexity.

I guess what I’m getting at is – if we all need each other, why do we find it so difficult to get along? I am not here to proselytise or be self-righteous, I’m sure we are all aware of the multitude of problems there are in the world. It feels like a bit of a scary place right now. The more we can appreciate how much we all need each other, the more we think about what that really means. Imagine humanity as a big knot of wool – bear with – tied together in an impossible-to-solve selection of knots, twists and turns. It’s impossible to unravel us, that’s how tightly involved we are. But it is possible to strain and pull, snapping the wool in different places – and for what! Even if the wool is untidy, surely it’s better to have the mess and still have one unbroken length of string than to have a bundle of shredded threads that there’d be no point in trying to sort out.

Humanity – like that ball of wool – is an unruly mess, there’s no doubt about that. But there’s something beautiful in that too. If we could just ease the tension in the wool so no one was at breaking point, imagine how much easier it would be to try to sort out the wool, to turn it into something even better. A knitted blanket perhaps? To keep us all warm and comfortable?

I’m not sure, my metaphors are all over the place. I’m not a religious person but I do appreciate this concept. Life is a game of give and take, in truth we all work for each other whether we like it – or even realise it – or not. It is simply inescapable. So wouldn’t it just be nicer to embrace this feeling, to have pride in our differences and appreciate our similarities and all just get on with it. To have our bread, to share it, to laugh over it and tell our stories. If only the people of the world could come together to share in something, we would all be so much stronger.

Jeez, Demi is teaching me a lot about the world. Goodness knows what I’ll be on about tomorrow.

Ingredients for Day Three
50 g water
25 g strong white bread flour
25 g wholegrain rye flour

Mix in the skin on top of the starter and add all the ingredients. Combine well and cover loosely before leaving the bowl in a warm place for another 24 hours. Yep, if you hadn’t guessed it, same as yesterday. Leave her alone to do her thing and go explore the beauty of the world.



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