What’s the deal with sourdough bread? Why are so many people baking it? It makes some mad because they can’t find flour. But from my vantage point, folks are having a lot of fun with it. And I’m doing my part to fuel the fire. I should have kept count, but I’ve given away at least 50 quart containers of my sourdough starter in the last 6 weeks. Along the way I’ve received pictures of the finished products from recipients. It is fun to see all the bread boules, English muffins and pizza that are being crafted.
So what’s up with this surge of interest in sourdough bread?
Behind the obvious answer of being stuck at home with nothing to do and it seemed like a good idea, I think there is a more important discovery people are making.
You’re creating again, not just consuming.
And that feels right, especially to your kids.
Cooking is one of our most fundamental acts of creation. Animals don’t cook. Humans do. I believe it reflects more than a function of survival. I believe it shows our capacity to create. And as is the same with any form of creating, there is joy in the end result.
That joy involves consuming the creation. The artist doesn’t paint only to leave the canvas in a closet. The musician doesn’t compose only to never allow the piece to be heard. And the cook doesn’t make food only to dump it in the trash. All three want their creation to be enjoyed, consumed, taken in and nourished by another.
By learning to bake a loaf of bread, you’re engaging that role of creator. You’re not just consuming and letting someone else do the creating. You feel the joy of discovery and learning. You sense the delight in watching the raw ingredients that your hands mixed into a shaggy ball and watching it transform into a loaf of bread that looks beautiful and fills the house with a lofty aroma that rivals any Yankee candle.
You see the delight in the eyes of your kids because they know this instinctively. Kids love to create and haven’t been fully immersed into a life of consumption.. Getting them involved in cooking at a young age will engage their inner creator. This will be a gift they will remember and hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives.
During this shelter-at-home spell, I spend most of my day in acts of creation,. I bake, make music and write. Most recently, the chief act of my creating is my yard. I love fashioning beauty through plants and landscape. But at the end of the day there is an incomplete feeling. I can’t invite people over to consume it. I do it for the pleasure it brings me, but that’s not enough. All creation needs to be enjoyed.