I think I want to bake my own bread. I’ve been curious about the concept of baking bread for quite a while now. Years, possibly. I think it started when the wife picked up a bread maker machine. She’s used it many times, and every time she makes delicious breads. But most of the time it just sits on the kitchen counter taking up space, waiting. I would look at it from time to time, knowing that there was a potential for awesomeness just sitting there, neglected.
But then this week happened, and my web searches and online shopping carts have now taken on the distinct flavor of one who wishes to bake. Two specific experiences this week triggered this rising urge. Pun fully intended. You’re welcome.
First, I read a post on Medium extolling the virtues of maintaining and using your own sourdough starter. This struck me as an extremely California thing to write about. Not that I’m anti-Left Coast, I’m just not from there. And I’ve never lived there. And let’s be honest, some Californians do weird things in the name of happy and/or healthy living. So I read the post, found it interesting, but just shy of interesting enough to trigger me to look into it any further.
But then my mind started working the idea over. I recalled a book that came out a couple years ago that had been sitting on my To Read list, Sourdough, by Robin Sloan. I loved his first book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and his novella, Annabel Scheme. I was interested in his second novel, but the topic never seemed to catch with me. How interesting could a book about baking bread be, after all?
How wrong I was. The Medium post put Sourdough back in the forefront of my mind, and I sat down Wednesday night to start reading it. I’d say I read the whole thing in one sitting, but it’s not quite true. I read in bed that night until I fell asleep with the book still in my hand, betrayed by my own eyes. When I woke, I rushed to get my son to school simply so I could come home, brew some coffee, and sit back down to finish. I didn’t even wait for sitting. I was carrying the book around in one hand as I got the coffee started with the other.
I consumed this book. As a side note, I was in the midst of a 36-hour fast (I don’t shun all health/fitness trends, as it turns out), so I read this entire book with no food in my belly. I was sustained on Sloan’s words alone. And man, was I happily full by the turn of the last page. Sourdough was a warm breeze blowing around me, filled with the scent of baking bread, and maybe a slight tinge of bananas.
I find myself latching onto one book every year that sets itself apart from all the others. I know the year is still youngish, but I already feel confident that Sourdough will be this year’s book for me.
It’s a book about baking bread, and about the San Francisco Bay Area, and neither of those things resonated with me when I started the book. I finished and immediately started researching how I could make my own sourdough starter. I don’t know if the bread will have smiling faces, but I know I do thanks to Robin’s wonderfully relaxed style of writing.
So what’s next? I think I’m going to give this sourdough starter thing a try. Maybe I’ll make a few posts about it. From what I can tell, it takes about a week to grow your own sourdough starter. So that’s where I’ll start. And I’ll let you all know how it goes. Stay tuned!