Ireland is a great place to live in, but as I already said many times, coming here ten years ago was a bit of a culinary shock for me. It turned out that Irish people don’t eat raw vegetables almost at all, they have no clue what sauerkraut is, they blend all their soups and use buttermilk solely for baking.
Well, none of this is any of my business.
However, the Irish ignorance in the bread matter has been quite an issue for me. I just couldn’t make any sense of what was on the shelves in shops. There were so-called “pans”, i.e. cardboard tasting, constipation inducing square blocks, there were French baguettes made of de-frozen dough and American-style bagels. Finally, there was the iconic Irish soda bread.
If you have never had soda bread and wonder how it tastes, FYI, it tastes of soda. Don’t get me wrong, I grew to like it and even made it at home a few times (the smell is heavenly), but I still cannot understand the point of this invention. Sorry… 😦
You see, I grew up in Eastern Europe where 99% of bread is sourdough. The technical name in Poland for sourdough bread is chleb na zakwasie, but it is only used when two Polish bakers talk to each other. For an average person, chleb na zakwasie is just chleb, i.e. bread.
Now, here I am, in 2006, in an Irish shop, and I can see that the only chleb na zakwasie is called “Polish bread”. Needless to say, it was a huge surprise. The thing that I had been taking for granted for almost 30 years of my life and thought to be a part of the common human experience turned out to be something TOTALLY ETHNIC.
I talked to my Irish friends, back then, and they confirmed: sourdough is a strange exotic stuff that no decent Irish person would ever touch. (Sadly, this opinion seems to be shared by our local baker to this day; he still doesn’t risk selling sourdough in his lovely village bakery.)
Now, here I am, in 2016, a decade later, and read on the realbreadireland.org website:
(…)Real Bread is simply flour, water and fermentation (either by adding yeast or using natural fermentation) and sometimes salt is added. (…)
What the heck? I hope you noticed “Ireland” and “fermentation”. I cannot believe that I have lived to the day when I see those two words so close to each other. In the context of bread, I mean.
So, when we all finally agreed that “fermented bread” is the REAL BREAD, I am happy to invite you to read my next post where I will give you some information about sourdough. Not that I am an expert, but attended an event recently and got educated a bit.
See you and thank you for reading!
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