This week a friend from the village arrived bearing gifts. She’d been promising herself to take up real bread making for far too long. Finally, she made time to do a Riverford workshop, returning with starter dough originating from ‘Le Manoir’
My goodness… ‘Royal’ starter dough in our kitchen, to be treated with respect and fed well. Some gifts certainly come with responsibility attached!
It reminded me of a thought train I started a few days earlier and wondered if it would be helpful here.
It’s really important to let things settle and mature. To allow them to be tested and proven by the realities of life and the environment. Slow food is often the best, where the natural qualities of the raw materials are allowed to mature and be fully expressed.
However, the advent of the Chorleywood process enabled bread to be fast proved. So we ended up with bulk uniformity that was tasteless but didn’t realise it. It met a particular need of the day – mass production and food shortages – but there are consequences.
We’ve got so used to eating fast, on the hoof. However, the implications for our physical and social health are starting to become really evident. In obesity, chronic digestive problems, lack of connection and conversation…
So why do we still do ‘fast’?
Perhaps it’s because currently, we think ‘slow’ is a luxury. We think we are time poor. Or we don’t have the skills, and slow food is expensive. We can only find it in special locations.
This raises some important questions. What would really accessible slow food accessible look like? And what difference would it make? What could help us change our thinking and our habits?
Seasons in time
In my current season of recovery and transition, I’ve realised I need to allow this proving process to go deeper. Let time and reflection do the work they need to do, stripping back the layers of life that have left their unhelpful weight. For me, it also means that intensive ‘people time’ needs to be followed by rest.
So what about you?
What’s going on below the surface in your life that you need to pay attention to? To give breathing room to in order that it can do its work in you?
And time to act
From our previous attempts at baking sourdough, I also know that proving is not an indeterminate process. If just left, it ultimately goes off and becomes unusable. The micro-actions of the live natural yeast are finely tuned and we need to pay attention. When is it ready?
This also applies to our lives. As a dear, wise old friend said to me yesterday: you can overthink things, you know.. Yes, indeed…
Realising this is important too. I’m getting to know when this is a decaying exploration, that might be putting off something I need to do.
Fear is often at the root of this. I want to get it right. But the amazing thing about bread making – and indeed any slow food process – is that we don’t need to know everything. We just need to trust the ingredients and pay attention to the process.
Stepping out, and maybe getting it wrong, helps us to hone our sense of timing.
Often in slow food preparation, it isn’t about following detailed instructions (they often don’t exist). But instead, it’s cultivating our sense of smell, taste and feel, to judge when to take the next step.
It is also dependent on the environment and that can change with the seasons. So there isn’t a single, simple answer. It all depends…
My current braveness is in drafting a Manifesto for Quiet Disruptors and starting to put it out there. Being prepared to go with it and see where it takes me. Now is my time, even though I don’t know everything.
When is your time to act? What might spoil if you leave it for too much longer?
“For such a time as this” is both a huge gift (and honour) and a responsibility.