Friday, 23 January 2009

As Big as a Bread Bin, Perhaps

Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
William Shakespeare (King Richard II, Act III, Scene II)

THERE IS A GOOD DEAL to be said for product placement. A seduction by the truth has just been brought home to me when I searched online for the quotation above from Shakespeare's Richard II. At the top of the screen was an advertisement for a national bakery chain. Could it have been linked to my search for the key word "bread"? Delicious, convenient, less expensive.

I'm not sure whether Shakespeare intentionally inserted the phrase "I live with bread like you" as a reminder that King Richard II, after his forced abdication and the accession of Henry IV, was imprisoned in Pontefract Castle where he was intentionally starved to death. His heart most likely gave out on 14 February 1400. Unhappy Valentine's Day.

The Forme of Cury, a collection of recipes, was the first English cookbook, and was compiled by King Richard's Master Cook. Richard surely must not have handled his dying very well. The King enjoyed a good meal. He might have envied his great-grandfather's fiery end. That would be Edward II.

But I digress, as always.

I live a few doors down from the only real bakery in Amble. There is another chain bakery outlet further down which has goods delivered each morning, brought in from who-knows-where. They have no aroma though. Lost somewhere on the motorway? Our minimart has bread and bakery items trucked in as well, for some reason most of these come from France. "Consumers please note this product may contain traces of frog and/or snail." Our nearest supermarket, ten miles inland, has fluffy white breads if you like that sort of thing. I don't. It's not even fit to chum fish or feed the jackdaws.

I like a locally baked (just this morning) (still warm from the oven) (fragrant) (soft) (crispy crust) (tasty) (whole wheat) (reasonably priced) loaf. I buy a small loaf twice a week, and have the counter girl slice it in medium slices, which are the thinnest (go figure) one can get nowadays. I pay £0.85 for a loaf. A large loaf to last seven days would work out less expensive, but I like the freshness of two smaller loaves, one on a Friday, one on a Tuesday.

My grandmother, the one who lived much of her life in Bermuda, bought a loaf of whole wheat bread, thicker slices than I prefer, once a week. Actually, because the Crow Lane Bakery was not close enough for Grandmother to walk to once she became truly elderly (she lived to be 104 and ate bread till the end), I was the bread-buyer. The Crow Lane Bakery was situated in the middle of a traffic nightmare and I hated trying to get to it by vehicle or on foot. However, I do understand my grandmother's dedication to the small-town bakery product.

Amble's Bread Bin Bakery is smaller than Bermuda's Crow Lane. The bread is better. Like the Crow Lane, there are other items: Sausage rolls, scones, pies, fairy cakes, fruit loaves, sandwiches, waters and fruit drinks and colas, honey, jams and marmalades, and gingerbread cookies, and more.

I sometimes get a sausage roll for lunch, or a prawn sandwich, and an orange drink. If I'm having company I'll buy some plain cake and a Victoria sponge. But I'm really a bread customer. The girls know what I'll be wanting, I think. I should ask for something completely different: Perhaps a tea cake for toasting. I don't have much time left to bamboozle them with that request, the building the Bread Bin is located in was sold to a developer last week, the new owners did not want the business, and the employees have just been told they will be out of work at the end of January.

I shall miss the counter staff, certainly, but it is the small town, right-out-of-the-oven whole wheat loaf on a Tuesday and Friday that I shall really miss. My Dad had a bread-making machine at the end of his too-short life (he'd have been my present age when he got it). If I could get the recipe for the Bread Bin's whole wheat loaf, and got a machine…

I wonder. I'm not very mechanical, but necessity being...

1 comment:

suz said...

oh, i'm so sorry you're going to lose your bakery! there's nothing like a fresh-baked loaf.
i've got a bread machine but i don't like it. just making it myself, hand-kneading or cheating with my wonderful kitchen-aide makes dizzyingly delicious bread, and i can use whatever proportions of whole grain flour and try different combinations.
you made the fragrance of crow lane bakery come flooding back. i used to wait at that bus stop on saturday mornings to go to warwick riding school, and that glorious scent was part of the magic of the mornings.
:) khairete