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"My lifelong love affair with bread has less to do with crust, crumb, and the vagaries of sourdough cultures and more to do with bread as a reflection of people's varied beliefs, daily lives, and blood memories....Bread tells the most essential human stories."
So begins Susan Seligson's personal and often humorous journey to discover the secrets of the baker's trade and the place bread has in the lives of those who consume it. Part travelogue, part cultural history, with a handful of recipes thrown in for good measure, it is an exploration of the customs, traditions, and rituals around the creating and eating of this most basic and enduring form of sustenance.
Bread is the stuff of life. Governments have been overthrown and religious rituals created because of it. Fry bread, matzo, ksra, nan, baguette: all are as resonant of their specific culture as any artifact. In Going with the Grain, Seligson wanders the streets of the Casbah in Fès, Morocco, to unlock the secrets of the thousand-year-old communal bakeries there. In Saratoga Springs, New York, she finds a bread maker so committed to making the ultimate loaf, he built a unique sixty-ton hearth and uses only certified biodynamically grown wheat. Seligson knelt in the Jordanian desert beside a woman turning flat breads over glowing embers and plumbed the mysteries of Wonder Bread in an aseptic American factory.
As satisfying as a slice of good bread with butter, Going with the Grain is for the armchair traveler and armchair baker alike.