Friday, April 2, 2010

Practice, Practice & More Practice

I’m such a bad blogger; forgive me everyone for not posting more often. Not quite sure how those bloggers out there can blog on a daily basis, maybe they don’t have a day job or something going on, not to be judgmental. I’ve felt like I don’t want to bore everyone with the process of baking but I actually realized this weekend that it’s exactly what I should be blogging about, the endless weekends spent baking, even though I think nothing is really happening actually so much is.

Baking has been my constant, my refuge and the practice; call it meditation that is keeping me sane during insane times. I feel like the world is cracking up and though I try and do my part, its intense out there. I remember when my life was much simpler and the stress level was much more sane. I thought when you got older all that you invested in starts to pay off, but guess what, its kind of not working out that way, its actually the opposite. To survive I feel is having to be open to re-inventing yourself and in the end it’s really been a good thing for me. It’s how we grow and change. I want no self pity because I would never have taken this journey, but here I am and I am so proud of one thing, that I have some control over, my pain levain.

So many friends I know are actually surviving by reinventing themselves, taking it back to the simplest denominator. In the food world it seems everyone is trying to go back to making something by hand and I for one think that is so the way to go. It’s a given that no matter what, everyone has to eat so the business won’t go away.
This week after almost a month of posting I realized that to be good at anything, no matter what, it simply takes practice. That thing that you do on your own, with no one watching, just you practicing what it is you want to learn and in my case be the best at. It’s the subtle small lessons, the weird way you start to become so familiar with something, it becomes second nature.

Last Sunday on one of those morning shows, there was segment on Lionel Poilane. The Lionel family was in the bread business in Paris and he made it so chic and produced one of the finest loaves of bread in Paris. I was so lucky to have met him and spent an afternoon with him at his bakery. I think it was one of the reasons I wanted to make bread. It was a video taken of him before the tragic helicopter accident that took he and his wife Ibu. Lionel was making his signature cookies and doing it all with just one hand. He was explaining that it’s about touching the ingredients, an egg in the middle, a circle of sugar and then a circle of flour. All the while he was incorporating the ingredients in a slow motion and presto it was a ball of dough. He spoke of how we need to touch, it’s that tactile experience that you need in baking.

When the weekend comes around I don’t really want to take chances with my bread but that is what I should be doing, experimenting. It just a drag to spend 10 hours on something and then it doesn’t turn out, but my bread needs more work to get it to be ultimately what I want. How do I get there, by sometimes making bread that doesn’t work so I learn not to do whatever it was I did again? It’s the practice of making it over and over again, and getting more and more familiar with it. I am so proud of where my bread has come; its incredibly delicious and all of my lucky friends who I share it with are in awe. Not in a way that feeds my ego, but in a way that just confirms my resolution, sometimes it’s the small things in life that are the most important.

4 Comments:

Blogger Max said...

So, Lora, I have a question for you, and you may find this laughable, but here it is: I want to make bread at home, and I live in New England. I've lived here for about a hundred years, and I still can't get used to the weather. I just cannot imagine turning the oven on - especially to the temperature required for bread - after, say, June. What's your experience of that in Southern California? Do you just go ahead and turn on the oven every day, and you're so rewarded by the bread it doesn't matter? Or is it something unpleasant you have to just tolerate? Or do you find that it doesn't really make a difference once it gets hot anyway?

I am so enjoying following this blog! Thanks for writing.

April 8, 2010 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Lora Z said...

Max, Cold or hot your oven isn't on that long, only 30 minutes to heat your pot and then an hour or so to bake. The bread is worth it. Hot days affect your bread, so make sure you take that into account.

April 8, 2010 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Thanks for that encouragement - probably that's all I needed :). Anyway, it's back to a beautiful breezy 57 degrees here in Cambridge now, so I'm heading home mid-day to push some bread through the next stage. Looking forward to dinner!

April 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM  
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April 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

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