I love bread. It is a staple food in my diet. Naan bread alongside my veggie curries is one of my favourite things. A fresh baked sourdough loaf is usually on top of my fridge. We use it for toast or sandwiches or dipping in soup. I used to bake baguettes with my roommate in university. She had special pans that we would take out every couple weeks. The warm soft bread was delicious with crumbled blue cheese, jam, butter or honey. Since that time, my diet has changed but my love for bread remains steadfast and true.
There was, however, a short period of time in which bread became a bad food. The whole gluten-free, wheat belly, carbs are the devil thing got to me. I stopped eating it and replaced burger buns with iceberg lettuce. Raw seed crackers, untainted by “evil” processed flours, were dipped in steaming hot bowls of soup, which begged for a crusty slice of sourdough. I made pizza on portabello mushroom caps, avoided wraps, bagels, buns and the like. Bread was unhealthy and that was that.
I kind of got over this phase on my own. It was just too good to give up, you know? Yet, I found myself feeling guilty whenever I decided to “indulge” in a sandwich. Then I watched Michael Pollan’s documentary series on Netflix called Cooked. He has a whole episode where he largely focuses on bread. The camera trains itself on women from all over the world grinding flour, kneading dough and baking. These women nourish their families with ancient recipes, passed down though the generations, so ingrained in them they carry out the culinary task automatically. People have been eating bread for centuries. How could this food be bad?
Well, a lot of us buy bread baked by a machine that has not been taught by its mother to make something which nourishes us. It has been programmed to churn out thousands of loaves an hour and is pumped full of sugar, preservatives and air. It’s cheap and keeps us coming back for more. It’s not filling and we crave the sugar-fix.
But not all bread is made equal. There are still bakers out there carrying out the long-held tradition of making the simple yet practically divine food that compliments so many meals. Blackbird Baking Co. does this better than most. Their bread is beautiful. Although some of their products contain dairy or eggs they have many vegan options. They are more than happy to help you identify what suits your needs. On a side note, if you are not celiac but you avoid gluten I recommend this article and encourage you to do lots of research!
I have been to this bakery, located in Kensington Market, a number of times. The service is always friendly and efficient. You know the bread is fresh because someone is constantly bringing out warm loaves and refilling the baskets in the shopfront. You know the bread isn’t chock full of preservatives because it does not keep for very long. This, of course, does not matter in the least because you will eat it all before it goes stale. There are also lots of tricks like wrapping your bread in a tea towel, using paper-bags or freezing that will allow you to preserve a loaf or two if you cannot keep up. I strongly encourage you to check this place out and try some of their delicious bakes.
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