🎧 Barges and bread | Eat This Podcast

Listened to Barges and bread: A new book looks at London and the grain trade by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast

Time was, not so long ago, when you could barely move on the Thames in London for ships and boats of all shapes and sizes. Goods flowed in from the Empire in tall-masted sailing ships and stocky steamers and were transferred to barges and lighters for moving on. The canals, too, were driven by, and served, the industrial revolution, bringing coal and other raw materials to factories and taking away the finished goods by water, the cheapest and quickest system for bulk transport. By the late 1960s, much of the waterborne traffic had gone. Ships unloaded in the docks and goods were transferred by road and rail. A bit of freight continued to move on the water, some of that in the hands of Tam and Di Murrell. Di Murrell’s new book, Barges & Bread: canals & grain to bread & baking traces the interwined development of the grain trade and bread as it played out in the Thames basin and beyond.

The importance of bread (and beer) to the people is encapsulated in the Assize of Bread and Ale, a statue of 1266 (though it appears to have codified earlier laws) and the first law in England to deal with food. Loaves were sold by size for a penny, a half-penny and, most commonly, a farthing (quarter of a penny). The finer the flour, the smaller the loaf you got at each price point. The price of grain naturally varied from year to year and from place to place, but the Assize fixed not the price but the weight of a penny loaf and also regulated in minute detail the baker’s profit and allowable expenses.

Very roughly, if the price of wheat was 12 pence a quarter (a quarter weighing 240 pounds) then the baker had to ensure that a farthing loaf of the best white bread, called Wastel bread, weighed 5.6 pounds. Wastel bread was not the most expensive. Simnel bread, “because it has been baked twice,” cost a bit more and so called French bread, enriched with milk and eggs, a bit more still. The coarsest “bread of common wheat” was less than half the cost of wastel bread.

From every quarter of wheat, the baker was permitted to sell 418 pounds of bread. Anything he could squeeze above that was called advantage bread, and was essentially pure profit. There was, naturally, every incentive for bakers and millers alike to add all sorts of things to increase the weight of flour and bread.

It is the connection between money and the weight of bread that is most intriguing. Weights, like money, were expressed as pounds. A pound in money was the pound-weight of silver, while the penny – the only coin in circulation – was a pennyweight of silver. But how much was a penny weight? 32 Wheat Corns in the midst of the Ear according to the Assize of Bread and Ale, which then explained that the 20 pence-weight made an ounce, and 12 ounces made one pound.

Notes

  1. Di Murrell’s book Barges & Bread: canals & grain to bread & baking, is available from Amazon and elsewhere, including direct from the publisher, Prospect Books.
  2. Di also has a website, Foodieafloat.
  3. If you really want to get to grips with the Assize of Bread, you need to read Alan S. C. Ross. “The Assize of Bread.” The Economic History Review, vol. 9, no. 2, 1956, pp. 332–342. JSTOR.
  4. Incidental music is the Impromptu from Zez Confrey’s Three Little Oddities, played by Rowan Belt

Sad that they managed to win their court case for shipping grain, but were still frozen out of the market.

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Following KT Pickard

Followed K. Thomas “KT” Pickard by KT Pickard (GenomeDad Blog)
Big data: From medical imaging to genomics In 2006, a Scientific American article written by George Church, “Genomics for All,” rekindled my interest in genomics. I went back to school in 2009 to contemplate the business of genomic medicine, and celebrated my MBA by writing a Wikipedia entry for the word, “Exome.” I was hooked. We started our odyssey by genotyping our family using 23andMe, and later my wife and I had our whole genomes sequenced. Realizing that genomics were starting to yield clinically useful information, we crowdsourced the sequencing of our kid’s genomes to look for genetic clues in their autism. We found interesting results, gave talks and wrote papers. Along the way, I realized that medical imaging and genomics are highly complementary: genomics informs or identifies conditions, and radiology localizes them. Sarah-Jane Dawson pointed this out at a Future of Genomic Medicine conference in 2014.

Someone who’s also into some of my favorite topics: genomics, medical imaging, and bread? And bonus points for the blog name https://genomedad.com/.

How could I not follow him?

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📖 Read pages 40-57 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

📖 Read pages 40-57, Chapter 1. What is it About Bread: Classification of breads & beginning of 12 stages of bread, of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed Press, , ISBN: 978-1-60774-865-6)

Lots of nice definitions and categorization, though I can already tell from other readings that some of the definitions, particularly for pre-ferments, aren’t always as solid as I’d like them to be. As if he were a mathematician, however, he seems to delineate a pretty tight set here that he indicates he’ll stick to throughout the book.

Four types of pre-fermented dough
Stiff/firm: pâte fermentée and biga (no salt)
Wet: poolish and sponge (or levain levure)

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📖 Read pages i-39 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

📖 Read pages i-39, Acknowledgements, Preface, Introduction, beginning of Chapter 1. What is it About Bread, of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart (Ten Speed Press, , ISBN: 978-1-60774-865-6)

The opening is perhaps overly romanticized, though still interesting. He does relatively quickly get into the good stuff though.

Reposting Eat This Podcast on Twitter

Reposted Eat This Podcast on Twitter (Twitter)
Let the celebrations begin. #Fornacalia offers bakers everywhere a chance to honour their ovens and their ingredients. https://www.fornacalia.com/2018/gearing-up-for-fornacalia/
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Happy Fornicalia

Celebrating the Ancient Roman religious festival in honor of the goddess Fornax

As we coast toward the nones of February whence we’ll commence the celebration of the Fornacalia, by all accounts an Ancient Roman religious festival celebrated in honor of the goddess Fornax, a divine personification of the oven (fornax), and was related to the proper baking of bread, I thought it only appropriate to call some attention to what should be an international holiday for bakers.

While shamefully few, if any(?), now celebrate the Fornacalia, I’ve always looked at the word as a portmanteau of a festival along the lines of a bacchanalia for bread with tinges of seeming Latin cognates fornicati, fornicatus, fornicata, and fornicatae or the Greek equivalent porneia (πορνεία). Knead these all together and you’ve got the makings of a modern day besotted festival of bread immorality. And really, who wouldn’t want to celebrate such a thing?!

I’ll celebrate myself by doing some baking, listening to the bread related episodes of Eat This Podcast, while reading and looking at bread porn on Fornacalia.com. Special thanks to curio maximus Jeremy Cherfas for providing entertainment for the festival!

How will you celebrate?

 

Featured photo Bread is a flickr photo by Jeremy Keith aka adactio shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license.

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🎧 Bread as it ought to be: Seylou Bakery in Washington DC | EatThisPodcast

Listened to Bread as it ought to be: Seylou Bakery in Washington DC by Jeremy Cherfas from Eat This Podcast
Jonathan Bethony is one of the leading artisanal bakers in America, but he goes further than most, milling his own flour and baking everything with a hundred percent of the whole grain. He’s also going beyond wheat, incorporating other cereals such as millet and sorghum in the goodies Seylou is producing. I happened to be in Washington DC just a couple of weeks after his new bakery had opened, and despite all the work that goes into getting a new bakery up and running, Jonathan graciously agreed to sit down and chat.

And almost as if to prove my point after writing about Modernist BreadCrumbs the other day, Jeremy’s latest episode is a stunning example of love and care in a podcast dedicated to food. I’m really so pleased that he can take a holiday, have so much fun with bread, and simultaneously turn it into something like this.

Even the title reads as if he were trying to out-do the entirety of eight episodes of Modernist BreadCrumbs in one short interview. I think he’s succeeded handily.

There’s so much great to unpack here, and simultaneously I wish there was more. I found myself wishing he’d had time to travel to some of the farms and done a whole series. With any luck he actually has–I wouldn’t put it past him–and we’ll be delighted in a week or two when they’re released.

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🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 6: Balls & Sticks | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 6: Balls & Sticks by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Six of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Balls & Sticks,” on shapes, scoring, and semiotics.

Balls & sticks. You’ll hear this idiom over and over in this episode, as if we’re talking in circles. The two shapes’ repetitive figures have been a constant in bread’s identity over time, but why?

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

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🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 5: Against the Grain | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 5: Against the Grain by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Five of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Against the Grain,” on politics.

How does bread play a part in politics you ask? Withholding grain has been part of party lines as well as a catalyst of war. Though the fight still continues to bring bread to those impoverished and underfed around the world, we urge you to chew on this: become as active as a sourdough starter, and be part of the bread revolution. Rise up!

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

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🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 7: Thermal Mass | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 7: Thermal Mass by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Seven of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Thermal Mass,” on baking and ovens.

We’ll discuss “thermal mass,” or the ability to absorb and hold heat, in two-parts: within bread itself, and the ovens it’s baked in. It’s a complex physicochemical process… that’s more than just hot air.

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

Syndicated copies to:

🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 4: Milling About | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 4: Milling About by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Four of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Milling About,” History Part II, Pre-Industrialization.

When we look back on how modern baking came to be, it’s the same old story of craft informing art, and how the artisanal approach was replicated through the aid of mechanization. This episode picks up where Episode One left off, telling bread’s life story from All Purpose to Zopf.

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

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The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart

Bookmarked The Bread Baker's Apprentice, 15th Anniversary Edition: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread: Peter Reinhart: 9781607748656: Amazon.com: Books by Peter ReinhartPeter Reinhart (Tenspeed Press)
Co-founder of the legendary Brother Juniper’s Bakery, author of ten landmark bread books, and distinguished instructor at the world’s largest culinary academy, Peter Reinhart has been a leader in America’s artisanal bread movement for more than thirty years. Never one to be content with yesterday’s baking triumph, however, Peter continues to refine his recipes and techniques in his never-ending quest for extraordinary bread. In this new edition of the award-winning and best-selling The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter shares bread breakthroughs arising from his study in France’s famed boulangeries and the always-enlightening time spent in the culinary college kitchen with his students. Peer over Peter’s shoulder as he learns from Paris’s most esteemed bakers, like Lionel Poilâne and Phillippe Gosselin, whose pain à l’ancienne has revolutionized the art of baguette making. Then stand alongside his students in the kitchen as Peter teaches the classic twelve stages of building bread, his clear instructions accompanied by more than 100 step-by-step photographs. You’ll put newfound knowledge into practice with fifty master formulas for such classic breads as rustic ciabatta, hearty pain de campagne, old-school New York bagels, and the book’s Holy Grail—Peter’s version of the famed pain à l’ancienne, as well as three all-new formulas. En route, Peter distills hard science, advanced techniques, and food history into a remarkably accessible and engaging resource that is as rich and multitextured as the loaves you’ll turn out. In this revised edition, he adds metrics and temperature conversion charts, incorporates comprehensive baker’s percentages into the recipes, and updates methods throughout. This is original food writing at its most captivating, teaching at its most inspired and inspiring—and the rewards are some of the best breads under the sun.
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👓 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 2: The Great Civilizations of Grain | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 2: The Great Civilizations of Grain by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Two of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “The Great Civilizations of Grain,” on grains, flour, and milling.

In this episode, we look inside with a kernel of knowledge, sprout ancient grains, and take a journey through wheat’s history. We could go on for flours.

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

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🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 3: On the Rise | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 3: On the Rise by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode Three of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “On the Rise,” on yeast, leavening, and fermentation. Here, we observe a microscopic single-celled organism from the fungi kingdom, and its full effect on bread: yeast. How can something so small make such a big impact? When it comes to bread, the proof really is in the proofing.

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

Syndicated copies to:

🎧 Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 1: Pre-ferment | Heritage Radio Network

Listened to Modernist BreadCrumbs | Episode 1: Pre-ferment by Michael Harlan Turkell from Heritage Radio Network
This is Episode One of Modernist BreadCrumbs: “Pre-ferment,” on the history of bread. In this episode, we take a look at ancient drawings on cave walls, dig through the ashes of a volcano eruption, and consider the primal evolution of bread as we know it. We hope you’ll loaf it.

Modernist BreadCrumbs is a special collaborative podcast series with Heritage Radio Network and Modernist Cuisine, that takes a fresh look at one of the oldest staples of the human diet—bread. Although it may seem simple, bread is much more complex than you think.

From the microbes that power fermentation to the economics of growing grain, there’s a story behind every loaf. Each episode will reveal those stories and more, beginning with bread’s surprising and often complicated past, from the perspective of people who are passionate about bread, and shaping its future.

A podcast right up my alley to be sure. However the first episode is painfully scattered. I know they’re trying to set things up for what looks like a limited series, but this just jumps around far too much. There is no cohesion between the dozens of voices. Will some recur or are they just stopping by? Who are the hosts really? The hosts sound more like ad pitchmen and I expect an advertisement every time I hear their voices.

I hope things pick up significantly after this episode.

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