Bread Is Love
Food is not the only source of sustenance. Love is also a powerful nurturing force, and sometimes the two come together. Most of the beautiful photographs that you see here at the Joy of Feasting were created by my life partner and husband of 16 years, Vishnu. As a photographer, he has a beautiful, journalistic style. It is our mutual obsession with art & food that helped build the life we live today. He's a major supporter of my creative endeavors, and has greatly influenced the quality of my work. Our romantic fate was sealed in the first weeks of our relationship when he used Chinese roast duck as a litmus test to determine how I would fare as a girlfriend. That was 20 years ago. Unbeknownst to him, Chinese roast duck is my go-to, heal-all, comfort food, and it was the food that my father would gift his children on very special occasions. Needless to say, I passed the test. And, of course... so did he. Vishnu is also an excellent cook, a technique guy, a creative force with the hands of a craftsman. I, on the other hand, am the capricious experimentalist who often rejects rules. Together, we eat very well.
Bread is what Vishnu is known for. It is a meditative process for him and a chance to commune with the most basic and ancient principles of bread making. He has reveled in the process of nurturing and maintaining a starter over the years. Please keep in mind that I am a girl who was raised on rice, and I don't generally eat or love bread in the way most Westerners do. However, I love his bread so much that I can, and have, consumed an entire loaf by myself. For the longest time, I thought I had a tumultuous relationship with gluten, but I attribute that less to gluten and more to the many preservatives and additives in commercially made bread and the sped-up process of its manufacture. My stomach was always in turmoil from the moment I consumed bread from a grocery store, and even local bakeries. Michael Pollan's wonderful series, Cooked, attributes some of the benefits of "real" bread to the work of enzymes in the starter acting to pre-digest the gluten, rendering it more digestible and nutritious, even for those normally intolerant of gluten, although there are people who dispute the accuracy of his claims. My experience has been that "real" bread that is baked with natural ingredients using time-tested artisanal techniques do not give me the same ailments as industrially made bread, I think Pollan may be right. Vishnu's bread is made with only four ingredients: sourdough starter, organic flour, water and salt. That is something my body approves of enthusiastically.
It took Vishnu several years to "perfect" his craft of bread making, and, like a true artisan, he sees his road to perfection as never-ending. I am encouraging him to teach others how to make bread. Hopefully, I’ll be able to talk him into a classroom soon and we’ll be teaching together. In the meantime, take a peek at all the sexy things that I have done with Vishnu’s Bread !
What is the answer to a fulfilling life? Is it love, good food, or good company ? Or is it creating something with your hands ? I think it’s all of it. Surround yourself with the people and things that sustain you. Cut out all the things that bring you negativity. Be choosy about what you put in your body, and ,when at all possible, make your own bread.