6 Apr, 2016 Newsletter

6 April 2016

Even in our sleep
Pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart.
Until, in our own despair,
Against our will
Comes wisdom
Through the awful grace of God.


When Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Bobby Kennedy was in Indianapolis and received the news. He rose to the podium against recommendations, acknowledged the pain of violence, but offered his favorite poem, the above, as suture to the flesh of scars. Indianapolis was the only city, amongst 100 major US cities, where riots did not occur that night. Peace is the acknowledgement of pain—guilty and innocent—and the decision to heal is an embrace in the trust of tomorrow. In closing RFK offered, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer…”

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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Notes: Do we trust the preacher or the sermon? Is the truth in telling, or in its story? Lou Reed: between thought and expression, lies a lifetime. Between words and behavior is the gospel of trust. Truth is in the heart, in the gut, not in the mind. Truth is a splinter in life’s timber. For love or glory, the rhetorical womb. The verbal grease we climb, only to slip, into the puddle of solitude. Solidarity, epitaphs, and the mild church of epiphany. The Phoenix rises in his embers—his flames—not in the smoke of pain. Trust the preacher, for he is his sermon, and the words are mere scaffolding towards heaven. Right answers are only the fear of the wrong questions.

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: Our first bread class went wonderfully. We put a tremendous amount of effort in the planning, execution, and fulfillment of having 16 folks come into the bakery for six hours on top of achieving normal production needs (5o0 loaves of bread in six hours). Steve, Suzanne, Alex, KC, and Carly at the bakery were great helps with definitive stamina. In all, the class baked 60 loaves of whole grain breads—entirely by hand—with freshly stone milled flour and natural sourdough, New Orleans water, and Avery Island salt. We performed, a la Jacques Derrida, a deconstruction of a loaf of bread. We took it to its studs: flour. And we allowed people’s taste, not their judgments, to decide what was best. Whole grains reign! We sought to leave qualitative verdicts at the door and instead delve into flavor—with nose, mouth, eyes, and hands. With time, and relative patience. Everyone from financial managers to sous chefs to models to restaurateurs to gardeners and professors all got to participate in the beauty of bread. It always tickles us to the marrow of our bones when we can share what we love so much with others. It really does. Thanks to everyone who came and we look forward to the next one.

There are no more spots in our May class…Our next bread class will be held in June 5th 2016. Class will be held at the Bakery, from noon to 6pm, and everything will be provided: lunch, breads to take home, equipment, and flour. Please email me if you are interested in attending.

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 was selected as of one America’s top ten bread bakeries of 2016. It’s a trade publication, Dessert Professional, that I used to read during lunch breaks at baking school SFBI. Pretty cool to be on the footsteps of the Pantheon. Vindicating. When they asked me for a headshot, I sent one, but requested that they use our group portrait instead of my own.  I sign the checks, but my coworkers are the ink in that pen. Water makes a fountain, not sculpture.  Tish the editor was very gracious and helpful, so we thank her too for her ears and support. And of course if it weren’t for the persistence, integrity, and patience of our customers—commercial and public—who have stuck through our passion the past three years, none of it would matter. None of it. None of it. Even if we don’t see the thousands of people who eat our bread each week, the bond is deep and the nodes are now roots. Without spending a dollar on hyperbole, PR, or advertisements, we hope that we’ve proven the value of sincerity, honesty, and hard work. It’s not so much that those values “pay off”; it’s that they steer one away from the temptation of success. Whatever that is. Passion has no bank. We’ve made our mistakes and have our faults—vulnerability is the oxygen of life—but the intent of desire to do well, to do good, for others through ourselves, will never snuff. We thank those in our lives who made us possible. Hope this link works: article.

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. Shifting 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 on April 18th from 6pm to 9pm, and then full-time in the Fall.

Soul Food

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay-
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of the day.

Patrick Kavanagh