If I had to pick one bread, what would I choose? When I think of the Indian bread, naan, especially dipped in or rolled/wrapped around a bit of Tikka Masala or Saag Paneer, my mouth waters. There’s a chewiness to the naan that is akin to the bagel, but the naan usually has a few burned, smoky spots, from the griddle, I think it’s called a tawa or tava.
There is a different type of chewiness, (or should I be calling it ‘crumb’?), to a fresh loaf of french bread. I don’t need a crust that is crackling hard, in fact it’s unappealing ‘cause it hurts my gums, but a fresh loaf of french….ah. Kind of amazing to remember that I used to bake french bread for a living. Five dozen loaves a day! And it was good. Now the occasional fresh loaf from Iggys satisfies. S will eat quite a bit, without benefit of butter and I can too. Of course with butter is better. And with some cheese, a creamy one like brie or Blue Castello or Saint Andre. Oh yes ma’am.
Matzo is great with butter. It’s also heavenly, with (my) haroset and horseradish. Peanut butter on matzo is good and then of course you can make matzo into matzo toffee, which is swimming in the sweetness of caramel and chocolate and toffee. This sweet is a rare case where I’ve actually found that there is such a thing as too sweet. Didn’t know it was possible. There is a perfect balance of dry, un-sweet matzo that compliments the sugar load and makes it better. Too much sweet and you lose the baseline of matzo and it’s no longer as tasty. Which doesn’t mean I haven’t eaten it, but I do recognize the difference.
Tortillas. A little squirt of mouth juice at the thought. Later I attempt to draw them, without much success; here it’s just the word. They are so simple, they have thus far defied my efforts to draw them, but I will try again. As for the real thing…I can make’em and they’re pretty good. And I can buy’em and use them in many different ways, (discussed later), but there is nothing, nothing, nothing like a stack of fresh-from-the-comal-in-Guatemala tortillas. The smell alone is healing. They are foundational, like bones, like earth; obviously I don’t mean the taste, but the corn and the way the corn is altered by the lime and the roasting and grinding to make the masa. I can’t explain it, but I think a corn tortilla is the most basic, foundational bread product that I have ever experienced. The first few days of each visit to Guate, it is transcendent to receive a cloth wrapped bundle of tortillas. After a week, I begin to take them for granted and my jaded, American palate-memory wants wheat bread, toasted, with butter. Which tastes good, but corn tortillas go to my toes, a truly satisfying food. So, maybe I ought to make tortillas more often at home? Yeah. It would be a start.
Shall I continue with the list of spreads? Nut and seed butters are wonderful. I will discuss tahini later, but for now, suffice to say that after a youth of enjoying peanut butter, the discovery of almond butter and then sunflower seed butter is extremely satisfying. Almond butter on a rice cake.
Raw, creamy honey is KILLER sweet; it beats any sugar-based confection. One little teaspoon can sweet me out. Good to know. I would like to make apple butter again in the fall. I could do it anytime, but it just seems like a fall thing. Discovering ginger spread was great! I enjoy the taste of ginger in many different cuisines, but the ease of spreading a bit on some toast… love it, the sweet bite of ginger. For a while I reveled in fig spread, which is also quite sweet. Figs are almost cloyingly sweet, they don’t need additional sweetener. Ginger does.
Not a big jam fan. Preserves, jelly, jam. I enjoy blueberry preserves on toast sometimes. Apricot preserves, better in cooking. Raspberry, strawberry, grape jelly… just naming them my face squinches up in an “I don’t really like it” way. Don’t think I mentioned Nutella as a spread, but it is acceptable. Joke. Put it in a crepe or croissant or spoon it from the jar when you really ‘need-a-fix’. Interesting concept, the things one reaches for when you need-a-fix. That’s drug talk. When I started EAW I thought that perhaps a list of when’s and why’s would emerge. This need-a-fix phrase is a clue.