Bread, yes, the Staff of Life, Manna from Heaven, yet bread is just flour, yeast and water really, maybe a tad of salt and sugar tossed in. You cannot get more basic than that. Some may call bread bland, some may call it insipid, yet as simple and pure as it is bread is truly a basic necessity, a staple of our diet whatever our culture, whole and complete, rip off a chunk and stuff it in your mouth, earthy and good, yet the perfect blank slate for all the rest that we eat: bread for sandwiches, bread to sop up gravy and sauce, bread for dunking in hot cocoa, bread turned into croutons floating in soup, bread sweetened for puddings or tossed into salads. I am always amazed at how something so plain and simple can be turned into something so succulent, so exotic. Yet bread still remains the best in its plainest, simplest, barest most natural of form. Just bread.
And our need for and love of bread has inspired us to transform the simple daily loaf into an extravaganza of breads, both yeast and quick, both savory and sweet, dark and light, in all manner of shapes and sizes, muffins, scones, biscuits, loaves round, square and braided. Just imagine!
And chocolate. Do I really need to vaunt the pleasures of chocolate? Bold and bitter or smooth and sweet, crunchy, crispy, light or dark, rich and luxurious, chocolate has the power to seduce, to inspire, to pull us into a dark, almost spiritual realm. Chocolate, that most mysterious of foods, both soothing and exciting, sinful, comforting and decadent. Chocolate, an object worshipped by many, chocolate in a hundred dazzling ways, able to bring the strongest to their knees, seduce a lover, a source of intense craving that no substitute can appease. Chocolate, food of the gods or food of the devil?
Yet bring the two together, rip open a loaf and fill it with chocolate, creamy smooth and sweet or dark, tangy, as bitter as you like, and you have memories of childhood, your hair fluttering in the warm breeze, bare feet on the steamy sidewalk, innocent, whispered gossip between girlfriends, pure pleasure. Or standing in the Home Ec room watching your 8th-grade French teacher roll up chunks of deep, dark chocolate in pale, moist, out-of-the-can biscuit dough, pushing yourself up on tippy toes trying to capture each and every movement of her hands as she creates this special treat for a roomful of impatient students anxious to savor their very first taste of France. Or the memories of that flaky, crisp pain au chocolat on our first trip to Paris, standing on a street corner, rather stunned that we are finally there; stumble into the nearest corner boulangerie and point, grinning, at the plump, golden pastry, just a teasing hint of the chocolate peeping out between the folds.
Bread & Chocolate stirs up visions of tow-headed children on Parisian streets, elegant little children in shiny Mary Janes or black brogues dressed in pleated navy skirts and loden coats, their excited after-school chatter filling the void between honking cars and city sounds, each enfant clutching a hunk of baguette, dense, warm from the boulangerie, a long, narrow bar of chocolate sticking out for all the world to see. Watch them as they bite into the crispy crust, crumbs hurriedly brushed away, joyously ripping into the tender center, * crack * into the slender bar of chocolate Maman or nourrice has so lovingly tucked inside and all thoughts of sharing a crêpe and a glass of wine with a chic young parisien fall aside: this is picture-perfect French romance itself.
Bread & Chocolate, that delectable, irresistible blend of heaven and earth, the voluptuous sweetness, the sumptuousness of chocolate adding elegance to the simplicity of the bread, the wheaty, uncomplicated flatness of the bread taming the sensuous delight of the chocolate. Enjoy the thrill, the soothing, dreamy satisfaction, bite into something close to bliss, Bread & Chocolate.
I am hosting Monthly Mingle this month, an honor bestowed upon me by my very good friend Meeta of the stunning, luscious blog What’s For Lunch Honey? and, after a thoughtful back and forth with her, I have chosen the theme
BREAD & CHOCOLATE
for my Monthly Mingle. So join us, won’t you, and bring along something from your kitchen, create something homey, something elegant or something exotic but do make sure that you follow the theme. Here’s how it works:
1. Create a dish that fits the theme Bread & Chocolate. It can be yeast or quick, in any shape form or size as long as it is bread. Or make your dish using bread and chocolate. As you like.
2. Post about it on your blog between now and Thursday February 18th (entries must be in English, please).
3. Your creation should be prepared for the current Monthly Mingle theme and shared with a maximum of 2 other blog events. Let's try and keep the creations as fresh as the ingredients you use.
4. You must provide a link to this post and/or the official Monthly Mingle page.
5. Please feel free to post - and proudly display - the Monthly Mingle Bread & Chocolate badge within your Monthly Mingle post.
6. Once you’ve posted your entry, please notify me by e-mail at jamieannschler (at) gmail (dot) com and include:
Your blog’s name and URL
The name of your dish/food/entry and the URL/link to your Monthly Mingle Post
A 350-pixel-wide photo
And please write Monthly Mingle in the subject of your e-mail!!!
I will post the round up on Monday February 22st.
As my decision to host Monthly Mingle was rather last minute/spur of the moment I didn’t have time to cook or bake for it – well, the first half of my project is done – so here are some appropriate recipes that I have baked in the past to help you along, get your mouth watering and get the old brain cells working. Have fun!