52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust
William Alexander is determined to bake the perfect loaf of bread. He tasted it long ago, in a restaurant, and has been trying to reproduce it ever since. Without success. But now he’s going to try again—every week for one year—until he gets it right. He will bake his peasant loaf from scratch.... show more
William Alexander is determined to bake the perfect loaf of bread. He tasted it long ago, in a restaurant, and has been trying to reproduce it ever since. Without success. But now he’s going to try again—every week for one year—until he gets it right. He will bake his peasant loaf from scratch. And because Alexander is nothing if not thorough, he really means from scratch: growing, harvesting, winnowing, threshing, and milling his own wheat. Alexander’s often hilarious quest takes our (anti)hero through dangerous back alleys of Morocco, where he bakes his loaf in an ancient communal oven; to Paris, where he enrolls in the cours de boulangerie at the famed École Ritz Escoffier; to a monastery in Normandy, where (his lack of French and faith notwithstanding) he becomes bread baker to the monks; and finally to his own backyard, where he builds a lopsided brick oven and learns that perfection is just a state of mind. Alexander also takes us along on entertaining visits to yeast factories and flour mills, seeks advice from master bread bakers, captures wild yeast to make his own levain, and enters the baking contest at the New York State Fair. An original take on the six-thousand-year-old staple of life, 52 Loaves explores the nature of obsession, the meditative quality of ritual, the futility of trying to re-create something perfect, our deep connection to the earth, and the mysterious instinct that makes every single person on the planet, regardless of culture or society, respond to the aroma of baking bread.
Publish date: May 4th 2010
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pages no: 352
Edition language: English
Having recently developed my own slightly demented passion for making bread, I found a kindred spirit. Informative and often laugh out loud funny, I enjoyed sharing the road with him on our individual quixotic quests for the "perfect" loaf of bread.
Alexander tasted a fantastic piece of bread and that was it for him: he was off in pursuit of making the most excellent bread ever. To achieve this goal, he set out to bake a loaf of bread every week for a year. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was able to stop Alexander from making that wonderful bread...
Very satisfying. "In fact, my parents' generation didn't have to deal with half the decisions, ethical or otherwise, we have to make today. Forget about paper or plastic. They didn't have to select from a dozen cable TV packages or choose between a PC and a Macintosh; they didn't have to decide betw...