The other day, I decided to patronize a local bakery. I want to support the local economy. I had read about all the wonderfully politically correct things this bakery does, using locally milled flour, sticking to old world recipes. Surely a loaf of bread there would go well with the soup I was making for dinner that night.There were only a few loaves left when I got there, a good sign, I thought, this bread must be good. “Well, we have this brioche,” the person at the counter said. “Oh, great, brioche is perfect!” I replied. Have I ever eaten brioche? Probably. In some earnest farm-to-table eatery with locally grown fried green tomatoes and locally made goat’s cheese with local bacon from local pigs who were raised to cavort and indulge in gourmet feed till they entered my sandwich. But I know I’ve never actually bought a loaf of brioche. I wasn’t going to admit that, so I pulled out my wallet.
“That will be $9.63,” she smiled. I froze. I’ve never paid almost $10 for a loaf of anything. My father’s voice railed in the back of my head, “$10 for a loaf of white bread! Are you crazy? For 50 cents and a little elbow grease, I’d make you a loaf just as good!” I smiled and handed over my $10 bill, hoping she hadn’t noticed my sharp intake of breath.
My face burning, I exited with the precious loaf. Was I an idiot? Had I been living under a rock all these years? Was this the going price for “artisan bread?” Was I simply a cheapskate? Perhaps I didn’t appreciate all the effort that goes into a loaf of bread. Well, actually, I do, since I have been known to make a loaf or two. Yes, it’s true, it takes time. But, but, but…
At dinner, I unveiled the bread. “You better like this bread,” I threatened, “It cost 10 bucks.”
Ron merely raised his eyebrows. “Well, let’s enjoy it then.”
“But, but, have you ever heard of such a thing? Who charges $10 for bread? And you know, they were almost out of bread! I can’t imagine your average Joe shelling out that kind of money for white bread!”
“It’s white bread?”
“It’s a…” I struck what I thought was a French pose, “brioche.”
“Ah! A brioche! Well, now, when was the last time you had brioche?”
I snorted, gave a humph, as if, well, you know, just yesterday or whatever, I must have had brioche. But my long-suffering husband is wise to my pseudo sophistication. “So, surely, you deserve a good brioche. After all, you wouldn’t think twice about spending $10 for a nice bottle of wine.”
Yes I would! I want to protest. But I’m silent, because there’s really no point in arguing this one. We’re eating brioche.
It was nice with the soup. Very nice. But for some reason, when we finished the soup, it seemed like there was still an entire loaf before me. I stare at the bread, thinking about all the articles I’ve read about the horrors of wheat, of white flour, of bread. I look down at my “wheat belly.” That’s it. Ron will have to eat the rest of this extravagant bread himself.
Next night, I come home to face the loaf staring up at me. I look up casseroles, and a vegetable bread pudding manifests on Food.com. OK, I’ll use the brioche. Ron turns to me with love in his eyes. “This is the best casserole you’ve ever made.” Before I can even begin to bask, he adds, “It must be the brioche.”
And still it sits, as big as ever, teasing me on the counter. It’s almost miraculous, the mileage you can get from a $10 brioche. Ron comes in and puts his hand on my shoulder, gazing on its infinite possibilities like a proud parent.
“What a wonderful bread you bought.”
“Uh huh.”“You know what you should do with it? French toast!”
I should digress here to share that all I have to do is look at bread and I gain weight. Ron on the other hand is a breadaholic. He’d be happy to have a bagel for breakfast, peanut butter sandwich for lunch and pizza for dinner, and never gain an ounce. French toast for him is part of the four food groups: bread, sugar, bananas and vodka.
I accept my fate and make French toast. And, true to form, Ron exclaims, “There’s no question, this is the best French toast I’ve ever had. It’s got to be the brioche.” He looks sadly at the lonely, slivered end lying abandoned on the butcher block. “You’ll have to buy it again. We could have it with a $10 bottle of wine.”
When not cruising local bakeries “just to sniff,” Lavinia helps others find pleasure by re-training their brains via The Feldenkrais Method. Join Lavinia for “Your Sixth Sense: The Key To Joyful Living,” a fabulous retreat in Boone, NC, May 4 -7.