Friday Bread Basket 4/29/22
Bread is Life Edition
Welcome to the Wordloaf Friday Bread Basket, a weekly roundup of links and items relating to bread, baking, and grain.
A pita by any other name
In getting ready for my flatbreads workshop tomorrow, I realized something important:
While here in the west we always call pita, it of course goes by a host of other names elsewhere. Growing up, my parents called it “Syrian bread”, which I think is partly a relic of Armenians coming to know the flatbread after landing in Aleppo and other parts of Syria after escaping the Genocide. (Before that, flatbread to Armenians meant lavash.) In Arabic, it is known as ‘al-khubz al-ʿarabiyy,’ which means ‘Arab bread’, or sometimes just ‘khubz’, meaning ‘bread’, a testament to how fundamental it is. And in Egypt, a version made using whole wheat flour (and proofed on a thick dusting of wheat bran), is called ‘aish baladi’, or baladi bread:
Baladi means ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ in English, but the word “Aish” is the key to understanding the special place of bread in Egyptian heritage. Aish means “life”, which is how Egyptians have perceived bread since ancient times.
Watching this video of aish baladi being made in Cairo, the name makes complete sense:
A Good Pizza Tweet Thread
Be sure to click through to read the whole wild story.
I loved this story from food historian Bee Wilson all about why the use of nutmeg (and mace) in cooking has dropped off since its heyday, and why we ought to bring it back:
One of the reasons nutmeg has fallen out of favour may be that its charm is much more dose-dependent than spices such as cinnamon. A little nutmeg is lovely; a lot is unpleasantly similar to cough medicine (which often uses nutmeg oil as an ingredient). Tamasin Day-Lewis writes in her 2001 cookbook Simply the Best that the correct amount of nutmeg to use in a lasagne is a “suspicion”. Kitty Coles tells me that while she loves a light dusting of it on French toast (a brilliant idea) or on top of a rice pudding, “it’s so distinct in flavour and smell that it’s one of those ingredients that can overpower everything else”.
The story is behind a paywall, but this link should get you the full text. (If not, try clicking through via Bee’s tweet below.)
That’s it for this week’s bread basket. I’ll see many of you tomorrow, and I hope you all have a peaceful weekend.
Nutmeg NEVER fell out of favor in my kitchen. Love it, and use it. A scraping in braised collards, with pork, and all over the place in baking.