The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

And now for something completely different

pmccool's picture

And now for something completely different

The past couple of months have been something of a whirlwind.  Just before leaving for an internship at Mark Sinclair's The Back Home Bakery, my boss asked if I would accept a 2-year assignment on a project my employer is managing in South Africa.  Without subjecting you to the lengthy discussions between my wife and myself as we considered one factor after another, suffice it to say that we agreed to the assignment.  Since then, we've sold cars, furniture and household goods; located a tenant/housesitter; packed; made lists; checked off lists; etc., etc., etc.  And so, here I sit in the Delta Sky Lounge in the Atlanta airport, waiting to board the 15-hour flight to Johannesburg.

For being a new adventure, its beginning is remarkably mundane.  Sitting in an airport just isn't particularly, I don't know, romantic?  Exciting?  Heady?  Whatever, this isn't the stuff of high drama; although I will admit that the lounge is much better-appointed than the gate area.

With any luck, I'll locate a place to stay in the next few days and be moved in by the time my wife arrives in a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I'll be checking in at TFL from time to time to share vicariously in your baking.  Once I'm settled, I'll get a new starter up and running (can't see the hotel staff playing along with an attempted head start) and start baking again; something that hasn't happened at all since leaving The Back Home Bakery.  The new assignment is going to chew up a lot of my time and energy, so baking opportunities may be limited and cherished.  We'll see how it plays out.

So, if I'm quieter than usual, you'll know why.  See you in Jo'burg.



Floydm's picture

Wow.  Good luck, Paul!  Please stay in touch and let us know how things are going.

LindyD's picture

You're an adventurous fellow, Paul.  Must be that Northern Michigan upbringing that sparks the wanderlust - or the good sense to grab a great opportunity!

Safe travel to you and yours, and do keep us updated on your great adventure.

Am hoping it won't be too long before you tell us about your new SA SD.

Judon's picture

Good luck to you and your wife Paul - I can tell from your posts that you'll give your new country a positive view of Americans...wait til they taste your bread! This could be a serious diplomatic mission.

Travel safe,


Yerffej's picture

Have a great time,


Marni's picture

I've really enjoyed your comments and helpful advice here. It'll be nice to read about your adventures in S. Africa.  Best wishes for an enjoyable, productive two years.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

May you arrive safe and sound.   A two year project will be fun!   The excitement begins once you get your berrings and get over jet lag and naturally when the two of you are rested from packing and experience S.A. together.


jleung's picture

Hope this two-year adventure works out well and that you'll still be baking away once settled in S.A.!

dmsnyder's picture


tssaweber's picture


I still remember the day when I arrived at O'Hare from Zurich for my two to four year assignment, asking myself what the heck did I do to me and my family. It was April, 15th 1998 at 3 PM. A lot lies ahead of you and your spouse, enjoy the experience and learning. I don't regret anything and so does my wife. Nobody from my family wants to go back to Switzerland.


SylviaH's picture

Wishing all the best for you and your wife.


JeremyCherfas's picture

That's it. Have fun too.


mcs's picture

Hope you both find it enjoyable and adventurous down there in South Africa.  Keep us all posted and remember  - here at TFL we love pictures, so don't forget some of those too.  See you in a couple of years.


Trishinomaha's picture

This sounds like a wonderful adventure! I'm envious.... I'll very much look forward to your posts once you get settled.

AnnaInMD's picture

My very best to you and your family in this beautiful country.


Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

All the best to you both in your new adventure, and please send us a line now and then :-)


audra36274's picture

adventure. A new chapter in your life is unfolding. Enjoy the new pages!


ehanner's picture

Good luck Paul in your new adventure. From everything I have hear, the area you are headed to is fantastic.

My son will be in port for 45 days in Capetown for the World Cup on a Holland Am ship. He's looking forward to being there too.

Travel safe.


Buni's picture

Wow have a safe trip, I am sure you will love your stay in SA. It's a very beautiful country but beware  even tho it's a very beautiful country there is alot to learn about it. I know SA used to be the country with the largest number of HIV infections in the world but that was around 2006.

Anyway you have a safe trip and a blessed stay. I am from Africa so it always feels good learning someone is taking a trip to see and learn about the other side of the world. It will be a wonderful learning experience for the both of you. I am sure you will enjoy your stay and your trip. People in Africa are VERY friendly, am sure you will have a great time and their food is awesome. So don't forget to post up some new recipes :)

Have a great time over there and may the Lord bless your stay.



dstroy's picture

Safe Journeys to you Paul, and keep us posted when you can! I look forward to hearing what you'll be able to tell us about your adventures there!

MommaT's picture

Hi Paul,

Hope you thoroughly enjoy your stay in ZA.  I just moved back to the USA after 11 years in Cape Town.  It is a beautiful country, with vibrant people (I'm married to one, so I'm partial!) and a style all it's own.  I'm not sure about Joberg, but Cape Town has some of the best food in the world, IMO.

One word of warning, though....the flour (and sugar!) is totally different there so it takes a great deal of experimenting to figure out which products work for you.  I found the grocery store flour a great deal stronger than in the USA.  "Cake flour" in ZA seemed like "AP" flour here.  My cookies and seemingly foolproof cakes suffered for a long time!

With that said, I am desperately trying to re-create the ZA "health bread" that is served in many restaurants and sold in every kwikspar (like 7-11, but has it's own bakery).   I believe it is a yeasted batter bread and could make a pretty fair rendition in ZA with "nutty wheat" flour.  But not here.  Let me know if you master that one!

All the best and ENJOY!


pmccool's picture

for your well wishes, tips, and encouragement.  I appreciate every one.

I made my first foray as a driver on the "wrong" side of the road today.  That felt weird.  Not so much the driving itself as trying to gauge my position vis-a-vis the physical extent of the car and things around it.  All of the geometries are different.  If you've ever attempted to bowl with your non-dominant hand, you'll have a notion of what I'm talking about.

Tomorrow is house hunting day.  As you may well guess, kitchens will be a key determinant in the selection process.


proth5's picture

A driving tip.  If you have a right hand drive car (steering wheel on the right) chant "body in the middle"  It helped me a lot when I first did the "wrong" side driving thing and when I came back...

Much luck to you!

wally's picture

is a great way to renew a life!  Best of luck on yours, Paul! 

And may bread find its way into it!


Paddyscake's picture

landed without incident. Driving on the other side of the road does take some getting use to. I had to remember to look the opposite way when crossing a street! Look forward to sharing in your adventures, baking and otherwise. Keep us up to date, all the best.