Inspiration, for some, comes very easy. I am one of those people. Every time I walk into one of my local bakeries I cannot help but desire to create the same smell, warmth, and crackling texture of a beautiful artisinal bread. I look down in awe at the masterpiece that I am holding and wonder who lost sleep, tended to, and perfected the art of making such a bread. Don't get me wrong, not every bakery in my state is of this calbor but we are fortunate to have a multitude of bakeries to choose from, some of which provide a bread from a particular nation, others that have the markings from the master artisan baker.
My desire to make bread has been around for some years, but my love of bread runs deeper. Growing up in a Portuguese familly, I watched as my grandfather broke bread over every Sunday meal. Originially from Lisbon, my grandfather was always very particular about where his bread came from. As a teenager he jumped a ship in the Bristol port and made his home in Massachusetts. Using the skills he learned from his mother, he became an apprentice in a bakery. As the years past, he eventually owned two of his own. In his early 50's he sold and went to work as a professional chef on an oil tanker. For six months of every year he was out at sea, but his presence when home left a lasting impression. He had his favorite bakeries and would make frequent visits throughout the week buying two, three, and sometimes four loaves of bread. On Sundays, two loaves were always broken. One bread for the family and one for himself. Yes, he could take down an entire loaf of Portuguese bread. Throughout my childhood years I remember my family teasing but as time went by, I began to pay attention to the very bread my grandfather loved. The crust was hard and gave a satisfying crunch yeilding to a soft but chewy crumb. Who knew that I would have an incredible appetite for the same bread and in my teenage years could rival my grandfathers ablitiy to consume the same quanity of bread. Of course the teasing moved unto me, but isn't that what family is for?
Years ago I decided to make bread. First I wanted a bread machine because aren't we promised delicious bread from such a convinient device? Then I began making quick breads for my husband every autumn. You know the kind: pumpkin, cranberry, apple swirl, etc. I knew this isn't what I really wanted though. I wanted to feel the warmth of my oven as a glorious aroma filled my home but years went by and my intention pushed aside to make way for other life adventures. Maybe it is because almost every book I have picked up lately, I love to read, just so happens to be about bread. Maybe it is because my grandfather recently had a stroke and has entered a nursing home. Maybe it is because I am tired of being awestruck of such great breads in my area and need to get my hands dirty to make my own. One of these reasons, if not all, is inspiration enough for me to try this year to take on the challenge of making a great bread. May my grandfathers' baking genes run through my veins!