15 October 2015
“And if you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other. There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.”
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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I taught a class in Los Angeles this past week. It was held at my friend’s flour mill, http://www.gristandtoll.com, and the experience was wonderful. It was the second class I’ve done there in three months, and although I love getting the fresh air (and staying with my grandmother in North Hollywood), it’s a mild shame that I travel 2,000 miles to share what I love. As a student, I never let my schooling get in the way of my education: I never learned a dime in classrooms and the thrill of sharing knowledge with others is a marked grace. When you know that you have transferred empirical wisdom to someone else (technical know-how, ability, tool handling), a certain catharsis occurs. Because when you’ve helped someone else change, or understand, you know that you yourself are confident, capable. You cannot teach what you do not know; I’m (finally?) at the threshold of such assurance and pleasure with breadmaking. But we must negotiate measure before walking through that doorway; if you are not a constant student, then you will never be a teacher. Knowledge is bone, and wisdom is muscle. Checking in with mentors in California that are re-figuring the entire nature of our craft, and our diets, was incredibly humbling and inspiring. (A friend is giving a talk to 500 reporters in London about bread on Friday, working with a speech coach. Ten years ago he was working a 14 hour day next to an oven. Another mentor still spends 14 hours next to his oven, and always will). But it also is cold shower to come back home to a place so saturated in bad habits and the tragedy of the past. All the pop-ups, the “recovery” graft, and the development of this beloved place is hubris. We cannot change the texture with new fabric. We need to work our needle slowly through old seams, stitch by stitch, until the cloth feels snug. We need to focus on ourselves before we look to anyone else. We need to take religion out the Church, one verse at a time.
Our New Stone Mill: Please visit our website to see some pictures of our new mill. We have run into some traditional shipping/freighting issues, but are hoping dearly that it will arrive within this month. We can’t seem to do anything the easy way, or short way, or the cheap way, or the highway. I like cul-de-sacs. https://bellegardebakery.wordpress.com/the-mill/ Don’t forget that we plan to have an open house with drink and pizza when the mill lands. Please stay tuned for details.
New Grains: We are currently sourcing some incredible grains in the bakery. All of these grains are Identity Preserved (IP). IP is term which denotes that an agricultural product has retained its integrity from sowing to harvesting. Instead of milk from four corners of the country coming to Brown’s “dairy” in Central City, to be pasteurized and homogenized, IP products are vertically integrated: the producer and the consumer are the only participants in its creation and consumption. We recently purchased some incredible French Rye, seed from Provence, grown by Anson Mills in South Carolina.
Blog Posts: I currently post a blog essay once a month; if you or anyone you know may be interested in learning more about our process and our projects, please stay aspired at: https://bellegardebakery.wordpress.com/blog/. Food is about sharing; but being holed away in Broadmoor at 5am doesn’t always allow us to share everything we’d like to about our craft, our passion, and our bread. So we found a nice closet for it on the Internet.