Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ballyvaughan Chronicles - Bread of Life

 In Eire they make wholemeal bread,
Of which, on occasion, ’tis said,
With butter spread thick,
It will cure you if sick,
And it just might awaken the dead.

At just about every meal in Ireland, we were served brown wholemeal bread. This isn't your hippie mom's whole wheat bread - it is a quick bread, made with coarse ground whole wheat and baking soda and buttermilk and such. Not everyone likes it - my friend P, who recently went to Ireland, Did. Not. Like. It. One. Iota.

But I did,especially with massive quantities of Kerrygold butter. That brings new meaning to the phrase "Be still, my heart." That butter probably would have stopped my heart but for the healing powers of the whole grains in the bread, or at least that is what I am telling myself. Top it with some Irish smoked salmon or with some jam, and you've got a meal and then some. Yes, you need a salad or an apple to go with, but that's not hard to do.

Bread. So good it can cure your body, or even, as the limerick says, awaken the dead. I doubt you'd get zombies if the dead were revivified by this bread - they'd more likely be mischievous leprechauns, whistling a reel as they snitched another piece of bread.

One of the fondest memories I will have of this trip is the morning bread delivery. One of the lads (Padraig, Van, Owen, Moley) would knock at the door around 8 am and call out, "anybody up?" Then they would bring either a loaf of the bread, still warm from the oven, or some freshly baked croissants, also still warm, enough for all of us in the cottage.

A digression: there were five of us in our cottage, four men and me. Ian (Londoner, CPA), Will (Pacific Northwest eye surgeon), Kyle (California guy, just graduated from UCLA), plus Doug and me. Reminded me a bit of the old days when it was me and StrongOpinions as the only females in a house with five males. However, these men all cooked and cleaned up after themselves, unlike the way it was in the old days. God bless them, every one. And the bread we received each morning was enough - just enough if we weren't greedy - for each of us to enjoy some. 

Yes, that'll preach.

Anyway, that gift of morning bread, feeding our bodies as well as our souls, was a particular delight. The thought of a couple of hours of poetry and reflection, then several hours hiking, was less intimidating with the bread in our bellies. Good bread, not that Wonder Bread nonsense made with air, sugar, bleached white flour, and no soul whatsoever.

Suffice to say, the bread will appear on our table and will wend its way into a sermon one of these days. After all, didn't Jesus say "I am the bread of life?" (John 6:35, if you want to check it out.)

Here's a link to a pretty decent recipe, if you want to try it for yourself. In Ireland, it wasn't in this round shape, it was in loaves. I think the recipe will translate just fine into loaf pans...

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