21 June, 2016 Newsletter

21 June 2016

“The field that you are standing before appears to have the same proportions as your own life.”

John Berger

Our emails, once a week, will keep New Orleanians informed about the State of Grain in our city and our region. Bellegarde is the only bakery in between Asheville and Arizona that stone-mills its own flour. We strive to source organic grains that we mill fresh and bake into healthy and delicious whole grain breads. We are convinced that the health issues which plague our city—obesity, violence, mis-education, ecological and cultural erosion—are bound to the lack of fresh food. Food access is a systemic Policy issue: everyday that we bake whole grain bread with freshly milled flour, we tweak one more nerve in the System. And each nerve pinched is our desire to re-establish our region as a self-efficient food economy and re-create the cuisine of New Orleans with fresh ingredients…a revolutionary Gordian knot.

We all speak the language of food and we all seek the pleasure of flavor. What more perfect medium to communicate change than with bread? Pandering to demand in a regional food system is not as important as nurturing supply: quality will dictate quantity. Help us democratize that staff of life. Splinter by splinter by splinter.

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New Blog: “According to the USDA, the top four of five crops grown in Louisiana are non-edible: feed wheat, soybeans, cotton, and feed corn. None of those should be grown in a state where one in four children are hungry.” A new blog is up; please click this link to read more: new blog.

SFA: Bellegarde got a wonderful write up fro Troy Coll of the Southern Foodways Alliance. A very concise and accurate portrait of what we are doing. SFA and Bellegarde.

Sea Island Rye: A friend and supplier, Greg Johnsman of Edisto Island, SC recently had his heirloom rye written up for Slow Food USA by renowned Professor David Shields. We are one of the very, very few commercial bakeries to use this incredibly unique heirloom rye in our breads, which we mill ourselves. Click here to read more.

Louisiana Wheat: We are excited to announce that there was, first ever to my knowledge, an organic crop of wheat harvested in Louisiana last month. Bellegarde is working closely with farmer to continue this important conversation and explore it for the future. It is a very gentle, supple, and silky wheat—mildly sweet and creamy—that does not produce wonderful bread on its own but is wonderful in a blend with stronger flours. Regardless, we are thrilled to finally have found a farmer willing to learn and to listen, and to do something different. That’s all it takes…more news to come.

Retail Bread: Please send me an email at bellegardebakery@gmail.com if you’d be interested in picking up bread from the bakery; we currently bake our country bread Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; we’ve also begun to bake a beautiful whole-grain RYE BREAD on Wednesdays. Pick up is available from 7am until 1pm on any of those days. $9/each.

Workshops: BELLEGARDE has two more class dates set for the year. Please visit our website Workshops for the coming schedule and email me to reserve your spot. Classes fill up quickly. The dates are Sunday September 4th from noon to 6pm and November 6th at the same time.

Bakery Open House: Bellegarde is proudly participating in the national BAKERY OPEN HOUSE DAY sponsored by the Bread Bakers Guild. It is free and open to the public; it is a great way to learn about us and about our work, beyond the bread we bake. Please RSVP to this email address here; tour and tasting runs from 1230pm to 2pm on June 25th at our bakery, 3609 Toledano St.

Soul Food

Alice Waters famously served a naked peach grown by Mr. Masumoto on a plate. For desert. No dressing, sauce, poaching, braising, tart, cobbler. She was making a statement that people who make food—bakers, farmers, producers, fishers—should be allowed to speak for themselves through their food. For the pure among us, we step into this profession with the naïve desire of compulsion: life usually migrates us to the places we need to be. Some travel quicker. Regardless, those who choose food—or, rather, allow food to choose them—can’t express themselves in any better medium than taste, than flavor. And the difficulty we confront (or skirt) in this fulfillment makes for a unique, mysterious experience through texture, aromas, and nutrition. Below, Mr. Masumoto recollects the pain caused by his family’s internment by the American Government during World War II. Not that it necessitates digging, but this passage reminds that every peach was once attached to a tree. As each loaf comes from wheat, each son from a father, each man from a woman. Life as the water’s origin…

Shame wounded an entire generation, the spirit of entrepreneurship destroyed. It took years for my family to make a fruit label with our own name: somehow it seemed easier to remain invisible. It’s impossible to separate the past from the peaches and nectarines and raisins that I grow today. People don’t just buy my produce; with each peach, they consume a little of my family’s past. The taste can be bittersweet.

Mas Masumoto