During our time on Corfu we restored three houses, set up a B&B and slowly brought an old village back to life over the past 8-10 years.
One thing I realised as I’d made breakfast for the guests each day through the summer, was that proper ‘traditionally made’ sourdough was all but impossible to find On Corfu. The island had very few bakers who had continued that tradition. Fermentation, creates the ‘starter’ the starter acts as the base for all traditional sourdough bread making. Then, using the original methods and ingredients of only air, water and organic flour(s) [+ a pinch of (Himalayan pink) salt too.] Many of the abandoned houses in the Heritage village of Old Perithia, had their wonderful old bread ovens still intact, but none of them now existed nor were used for bread making either.
For my birthday back in 2016, my wife and children bought and sent me on a ‘sourdough’ course with Vanessa Kimble, the sourdough guru and expert in fermentation and the science of sourdough. A fantastic day, and I left armed with a little of Vanessa’s legendary starter, a starter baking kit (no pun intended) further instructions and access to her www for all and any future references.
Endless practice at home (fortunately only one of which didn’t quite succeed) and then off to Corfu, where from then onwards our guests all enjoyed traditionally baked sourdough, just as they would have done many years earlier in all of the villages dotted around the mountains of Corfu.
My baking policy, one (or two) for the house and one for someone who deserved a free bread, for being who they are or for what they do. That has been the best part of the bread making experience for me, and recipients have been just amazingly generous with their praise and/or thank you notes – none of which are expected, but all so much appreciated, and why I’ve eventually decided to mention it – to thank them back!
The family jokes about my ‘miracle bread’ but it’s been eaten by those with gluten intolerance and even celiac, without any effect. It’s helped someone else (a local pharmacist) lose weight, though eating bread to lose weight may seem rather contradictory, and other ‘miracles’ that I’ve no intention of listing here. Others, just write or say the most kind things, one of which, a celebrated author and poet recently sent is below.
“OMG (as the young folk say) – that loaf is like something out of a fairytale – no, actually, it’s like the Platonic ideal of bread, to which all bread aspires but of which all fall short. Do you two eat this stuff all the time? If so, no wonder you look so uncannily young and beautiful.“
Okay, I didn’t have to leave the last line in, but just so you know 😉 I picked that one, because it has stirred many poetic hearts and been an inspiration for others to learn to make sourdough, and that seems most touching of all.
There have been thanks and comments from friends and family, in fact all manor of people from neighbours, to accountants, lawyers, novelists, musicians, artists, pharmacists, vets, doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, voice overs, actors, musicians, opera singers, chefs, housekeepers, cleaners, builders, businessmen and women – the list goes on, and I hope will continue to go on.
So, this time, it’s not all about work on the blog, and as I approach 2 years of bread making, long may it continue and I hope to keep up the ideal of ‘one for the home and one for the soul,’ for a long time to come – that’s what life should be all about, giving back in as many ways as I can, bread helps me make a small difference…
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