Bread. One of the most coveted foods for humankind. It can be slathered with peanut butter, used to soak up the remainder of broth in your soup bowl, or enjoyed simply fresh from the oven.
Americans, however, do not appreciate bread for what it is supposed to be. A simple food made of 3-4 ingredients, meant to enjoy, at most, a day after it was baked. We are programmed to believe that bread is meant to be soft inside and out. Crusty is not a word that most Americans would like to think about when it comes to purchasing a loaf.
In the United States, bread is taken for granted. It is left on the counter for a week or more and eaten without thought of its age. When mold does not appear, due to the huge amount of chemicals and stabilizers, it is continued to be munched on without thought.
When I first started making bread six years ago, I was proud of my artisanal loaves: caramelized, crusty, hearty, and simple. Much to my surprise Americans saw my bread as: burned, stale bricks. Customers would purchase a loaf on Saturday, and rant and rave with a Wednesday morning phone call that their bread, which had been left in the bread box was (GASP!) moldy. I was annoyed, shocked and most of all devastated.
When did this happen? When did Americans come to see bread as a food with no expiration date, and an unlimited shelf life?
Travel to Spain or France and bread is coveted in its own reusable bag, carried carefully from the bakery and eaten that day. The following day it is toasted or used as croutons. One day three it is ground into bread crumbs or tossed to the birds.
I wait each June for the first phone call of the season. What I call, the moldy bread call. And each year, without delay the day comes. At that point I gave up. I realized it was a futile battle. Definitely not worth the fight.
These days, my breads are available in my little storefront baked only on Friday and Saturday for a discerning clientele. Those who understand Good-Old-Fashioned-Bread. I do not advertise, I do not tell customers that we make bread. We have a few diehards who come in on Friday at Noon and then again on Saturday morning. Yes, they ate the whole loaf between those days.