About a year ago, myainsel and ocvictor gave me a cookbook called Ecole de Cuisine. I haven’t read or tried any of the recipes in the book other than this one, so I can’t review the book as a whole. But! myainsel and ocvictor gave me this cookbook specifically so that I could make the traditional levain bread, which is made by harvesting wild yeast from the atmosphere of the place where you live.
I wish to report that after 8 days of fermentation, and close to 36 hours of additional rising time, that the bread in question is exquisite. It is rich, with a good crust and a melt-in-your-mouth crumb, it holds The Butter with marvelous ease, it’s pleasantly sour but not as sour as traditional San Francisco sourdough, and… oh, my Gods, it’s local.
You may notice that I’m attaching this with magic and paganism markers, in addition to cooking. That’s because I made this because the chef, the culture of wild yeast that makes this bread work, is stored from batch to batch and allowed to ferment and enrich itself between each batch of dough. The result is a yeast culture that gradually becomes stronger and more attuned to the place where you make it. This means that this particular bread can’t be made anywhere in the world quite like it can be, right here. It is, if you will, a thing of grace and energy and magic, gradually allowed to become more beautiful and glorious. Which means — as good as this bread is now — it will get better. As long as I feed and cultivate this yeast culture, it will become better and better bread, and more and more rooted in right here, right now.
Which reminds me, of course, of this video from fnoxib, who pointed it out to me about 1 1/2 days before I needed to start the Left Brain-Right Brain portion of my Leadership class here at school. It will tell you things you need to hear, plus you get to hear a brain scientist talk about peace and love, and watch her hold a real human brain in her hands at the same time. It doesn’t get much better than that.