In Praise Of Bread And Dedicated Bakers

A short while after having seen the Atwater Village Bakery sign go up, we checked the store out. Bread in a variety hardly seen in shops was on offer, plus delicious looking cakes and a wide variety of food to be consumed on the premises. So we became regulars, getting our bread from there on weekends.

One weekend the store was not as crowded as usual and we happened to have a chat with Richard, the Head Baker, about different kinds of bread and about “Graubrot”, this unique type of bread found in Germany and dearly missed by all Germans abroad. No, he said, no, he did not know this type of bread, anything special about it? Now I am not an expert on baking, but I tried to describe this kind of bread to him. To cut a long story short, Richard suddenly said: “You know what, I’ll look it up and give it a try. I love a challenge!”

Fast forward to yesterday: A phone call from Richard – some sample loaves were ready for me to try out. Wow! We dropped everything, jumped into the car and drove over to the store. To be honest, I was getting excited – real bread, at last? Could it be?

We had to wait a while, other customers had to be tended to first. But Richard already pointed to the samples waiting:

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Then it was our turn. Richard described what he did to get this “special” taste and density to the loaves and that he and his bakers played around with shapes. Then he handed me a loaf and said “Merry Christmas.” What – wait until I was home? Never? I wanted to have my first bite there and then. So he cut off some slices and I did the first test – sniff the bread. I could not help myself, I blurted out: “That smells like home!” Then the first bite – yes, yes, yes, that was it. True German bread for the first time in years, freshly baked, not out of a factory and wrapped in plastic.

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Now all this new bread needs is the teeniest amount of fine-tuning, adjust the density a fraction and the shape and then I will never again have to forgo one of the simplest and most rewarding food delights: A fresh slice of bread with butter and cheese – just like home.

Thank you, Richard. That is true dedication to one’s craft and superb customer relations.

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