Monday, March 17, 2008

Making Bread, and Other Magical Things . . .

I've made a few recipes from Alice Waters, and always feel quite sophisticated when I do, although I suspect that sophistication is not precisely what Ms. Waters is after.

They are always delicious, so when her newest book The Art of Simple Food came out I was anxious to see it. Part cookbook, part theology of food, it's a book for dipping into for either recipes or contemplation.

Her statement about mixing flour, yeast, salt, and water together, then having it turn into a loaf of bread invites contemplation, I think. It is magical to see how it works in the kitchen, to smell the fragrance of the bread as it rises, as it bakes. It is magical to think of those simple ingredients coming together to make something so delicious, so nourishing.

Then I contemplate how similar bread-baking is to some of the other things we do. We mix people – some earthy, some bubbly, some well-seasoned, some quite fluid – together for various reasons and what do we get? Often, something delightful, something nourishing for our souls.

It can seem magical to mix together these various people, and have them turn into a cohesive group, able to accomplish varieties of things – worship, government, good works, relaxation – whatever they set their common mind to do, really.

A good mix is all about proportion, order of mixing, good ingredients. There are infinite variations of the recipe, some depending on location, some depending on weather, some depending on whim. They all hold in common the mixing, the blending, the result that pleases and delights – something magical, indeed.

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