24 Mar, 2016 Newsletter

24 March 2016

The preservation of Mother Earth is the basic step toward substantial change in civilization.

Luke Fontana

Our emails, once a week, will keep New Orleanians informed about the State of Grain in our city and our region. As you know, 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. Each nerve pinch 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.

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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.

Bread Classes: There are only two more spots in our May class left…Our next bread class will be held on May 1, 2016, at the bakery from noon to 6pm. Due to the positive response for the first course, we will be covering the same introductory information in the second course…Class will be held at the Bakery, from noon to 6pm, and everything will be provided: lunch, breads to take home, equipment, and flour. The purpose of the class is to democratize bread. That means we’ll only use equipment found in typical home kitchens and no tool will be fancy: we want the pleasure of our craft to be opened and appreciated by everyone willing to take a patient crack. Encourage empowerment and persuade with flavor. No kitchen aids, no mystique, no gimmicks or cookbooks: pleasure can’t be bought. We’ll mill flour in house and the classes will be conducted by Graison and another Bellegarde baker. Classes are reserved to 14 spaces and tickets are $120 each, completely inclusive. Food industry folks and culinary students (NOCCA, Delgado) will receive 30% off in order to encourage the beauty of continuing education.
Information is available here: May Day Class.

“The more you share and the more you give away, the more you receive. The more you teach, the more you know. Demystifying the creation of bread—flour, water, salt, sourdough—is such an incredibly cathartic and important endeavor. Our most important food has been manipulated and mutated beyond belief; teaching people how to make bread with the same methods used 10,000 years ago is empowering and inspiring. It humbles the teacher, the students, the entire process and relationship to food. Bread baking is elemental: fire, water, time. It is also tactile and cognitive. Re-introducing that pleasure—to chefs and to the public–is imperative for our craft to move forward. And to raise the bar on fresh, healthy, incredible food made with soul.”

Articles: BELLEGARDE got a nice write up in a national magazine. I’m very grateful that the reporter communicated our story well, and effectively. We were in great company and are happy to see Steve, our Covington hero, grace the spread with good posture and a baking peel. If only there were journalists in New Orleans that left the locker room gossip of the corporate kitchens; they’d hit Oz and its Technicolor like a ton of yellow bricks. Page 17.

Pizza Night: We had an incredible time at our Pizza Night at Paradigm Gardens—Adrian at Ancora did a tremendous job and blew us all away with his oven skills, talent, and patience. We proved that whole grains can taste good, better, beyond. Changing the paradigm at Paradigm Gardens. Evangelizing with flavor. Thanks very much to those who came out and we hope to see everyone when we do it again in April, and then full-time in the Fall.

Blog: A new blog was posted this month week…see below for an excerpt from the essay:

If we do not respect the system of life, we will have no moral ecology. Nature is a church and its rhythm a prayer. The democracy of food, that most basic human right, is the stewardship of our humanity. If we do not regain control of our food’s narrative—its quality, origin, price, preparation—we will become victims instead of protagonists. If we do not make affordable access to fresh, healthy, organic food the premise of our new system—if it remains distant, contrived, boutique—we will duplicate the systems of oppression we seek to usurp. Food is not a self-indulgent mirror to watch ourselves in pleasure: it is the organizing structure of our lives. It is the plasma in the blood of our community. The viscous gel, the binder, the gluten. We can no longer ignore the fact that Native Americans, Meso-Americans, and African Americans did more for and with American agriculture than all the Eli Whitneys combined. Especially the women. It is curious, shameful, but not surprising that those groups today are the most nutritionally disenfranchised among us. The communities that saved the seed, who nurtured the system, and gestated the system are today starving. Those who engendered Eden are now excluded—financially, culturally—from its aisles. Organic cannot be a price tag, but must be an invitation.

Soul Food

The pelican feeding its young from a self-inflicted wound in its own breast (as depicted, mysteriously, on the state flag of Louisiana) is accepted as an appropriate symbol of both self-sacrifice and rebirth. Through his selfless efforts, man is raised from the slavery of ignorance to the condition of freedom conferred by wisdom. Given the current state of affairs in Louisiana, one hopes that the understanding of the pelican as a symbol shall point the way towards a new consciousness of ourselves as a whole, and lead us to face our futures with strength, grace, wisdom and faith, to learn from our mistakes and carry our successes and zest for living to future generations….dedicated to the future, informed by the past. It is only through individual talents and energies, joined with others, that we can remake ourselves into what can be.

Kevin Combs, New Orleans, 1988