I’m working on a story about artisan bread. Since no such bakery exists in Tacoma, I bought lovely loaves in Olympia.
Gorgeous, they were: Dusty brown crusts like edible armor. Tender crumbs like cumulous cloud blankets. Amazing, the things bakers do with flour, water, salt and yeast.
I took some leftover slices into the newsroom yesterday. You’d think free and delicious bread would be enough. No. One boss wanted a tub of butter. Two editors wanted balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Some clown thought I was going to make PBJs.
Which popped a simmering question into the oven of my mind:
How do you eat bread when you dine at restaurants? With butter? Oil and vinegar? Do you ask for butter when it’s not on the table? Do you request oil and vinegar when it’s not there?
Do you agree with Bill Freese, a Vashon Island baker with whom I spent the morning today and whose sourdough loaves I am currently loving with a glass of cold milk?
Freese said of most bread that’s served in restaurants: “Oh, it sucks. The better the restaurant, the more it sucks. I can’t imagine a worse ingredient a chef would let in [than inferior bread]. If you brought in butter that bad, he’d whip you.”
Bonus question: If Jack in the Box can serve artisan bread, why doesn’t Tacoma have an artisan bakery?
Bonus question deux: If Jack in the Box serves artisan bread, what does “artisan” mean?
Jack in the Box’s sandwiches on artisan-style “ciabatta baguettes.”