When David first told me he wanted to learn how to make sourdough bread, I thought it meant I’d get to go to Paris. So I said yes.
I figured he’d spend a week or two at some bakery (boulengerie) indulging his latest crazy and I’d spend the time in museums. It sounded perfect. Admittedly, I didn’t give it much serious thought. Who would watch our five children is a question I carefully sidestepped in this Paris bakery fantasy. I spent time wondering if people still wore berets (they don’t). We never went to Paris. David found a bread-baking guru locally and so the sourdough began while Mona Lisa’s creepy eyes followed someone else through the Louvre.
Sourdough is super old. Maybe even Neanderthal man old. The story of the Jews racing out of Egypt with no time to let their bread rise overnight? Sourdough. Until commercial yeasts were created, all bread was a form of sourdough. The natural yeasts in the air affected how the dough developed. If you spend enough time thinking about it (don’t), it’s pretty gross. But given just the right amount of thought, sourdough is the most natural and healthy way to make bread.
Immigrants traveling to America at the turn of the 20th century would carry some of their sourdough starter with them across the ocean so that they could continue making sourdough breads with the own unique starters. Starters are handed down from generation to generation. As a litmus test for the relevance of everything in our culture, sourdough starter can be bought off of Amazon so you know it’s for real.
David tends to his starter the way I look after our kids. The starter has been given a coveted spot in the kitchen (that just means clean counter space). He nurtures it. He feeds it. He makes sure it stays clean and loved. It is not unusual for our fourteen-year-old to tell David, “you love your bread more than you love me.” It may be true. Sourdough does not talk back. It does not have 14-year-old boy stench (although, it does have its own pungent odor). It does not spend hours on the PlayStation and does not demand copious amounts of Lego.
This is an unexpected turn our lives have taken. When we were all young and dreamy, this was not the dream. I field a lot of phone calls these days, as our second bakery opened, with people talking about the beauty of following a dream and I think, this isn’t my dream. This is cool. But three years ago, this was on no one’s radar screen.
So I guess this is a story about how we grow up. How our dreams change. And what it’s like to go along for the ride.