Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Starting The Staff Of Life
By Michael

Our new mystery starter.
Something cool happened to us the other night. Our friends aboard La Loupiote gave us a special parting gift: a bread starter that’s been around the world. It is nasty looking thing, just as a good bread starter should be. We haven’t used it yet, and there is a burning question about whether it is a sourdough starter.

Now, this is not a trifle concern. We have not eaten any sourdough bread since leaving the U.S.—six-and-a-half months ago. This despite visiting a few bakeries run by expats here in Mexico and buying their tasty looking, overpriced loaves stuck with little hand-printed, chichi sourdough labels. Lesson: A sourdough label does not a sourdough bread make. And shame on us, because:
“I don’t smell any sourdough, do you?”

And we buy it anyway, every time, hoping against hope that maybe the tangy, distinctive, glorious, characteristic scent promised by the label, is simply trapped beneath that beautiful, crackled crust.

Like the crew of Del Viento,
the crew of La Loupiote is a
family of four with two girls.
Unlike us, the La Loupiote
parents are in excellent shape,
experts in circus technique,
and have astounded audiences
on their way around the world,
performing more than 400 shows
to date. This is them, twisted up
in silk drapes and high up in their
rigging, performing their Cirque
du Soleil-like show at sunset.
It was beautiful and amazing.
“Nope, I don’t taste any sourdough.”
“Me neither.”

Hanging off La Loupiote’s transom in our dinghy, we listened to Franck and Delphine tell us the story of this starter, of how a young European bread maker spotted the boat Bread, of how she patiently tutored the German owner in the fine art of bread making after learning Bread was a misnomer, that the German couldn’t bake a loaf to save his life. About how the German sailor nurtured and propagated the starter she left him, about how he then shared that starter with others on his trip around the world, 20 years ago. About how those sailors followed suit. About how the La Loupiote crew tried recently to share this same starter with a fellow Frenchman in Alaska, only to learn he already used the same starter in his galley. About how this sourdough starter…
That’s where Windy and I can’t reconcile: she never heard the word sourdough, I did. You see, it was dark. We were in our dinghy filled with groceries. We were hanging off the transom of La Loupiote, clutching our gift, listening to the story. The girls were boisterous (yeah, that’s the word), it was hard to hear. And Franck and Delphine are French…their English is very good, but not perfect, and their accents strong.

We don’t know whether our well-travelled starter will yield sourdough bread or just really good French bread. La Loupiote sailed away early the next morning, up into the sea, out of VHF range and temporarily without access to email. But we will know soon and learning the answer promises to taste very good indeed.

We enjoy the Ballandra anchorage, especially when we have it all to ourselves. 

1 comment:

  1. C'mon Michael, you know you will be wrong -- the wife is always right. I'm sure it will be tasty homemade bread in any case, and it has a fantastic story to go with it on which you can freely elaborate :-)


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