Man shall not live by bread alone--yeah right.
October 22, 2006 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Bread: From ritual to the dinner table, bread has played a significant part in human society. Yeast, aka Barm, is only one of several leavening agents. Which leavening used (if any) can be of cultural significance. I know when I drive by the Franz factory, the smell makes my mouth water. Sourdough is my favorite, but you can cook / find your own. World Bread Day has passed; hug your local baker anyway! To Health!
posted by whimsicalnymph (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is this where the term "barmy" comes from?
posted by stenseng at 4:19 PM on October 22, 2006

posted by whimsicalnymph at 4:21 PM on October 22, 2006

One of the world's most famous yeast products (after booze and bread) has apparently been banned in the USA.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:21 PM on October 22, 2006

/*atkins rolls over in grave*/
posted by localhuman at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2006

One fresh-hot "bata-ru" (batard?) from Pompadour, 1 liter of 小岩井 "lact coffee", and the kid is ON. More sinfully delicious than a box of Krispy Kremes (prolly the same glycemic shock, too).
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:40 PM on October 22, 2006

That article linked under "Sourdough" is kooky. Make "sourdough" by incubating commercial yeast in a covered bowl for a few days? Not quite.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:44 PM on October 22, 2006

Oh, and you're lucky to live in Portland with all our wonderful local bakeries. Not to mention New Seasons' Garlic Romano. Mmmmm.

For bread and beer there's no better place to be.
posted by twjordan at 5:24 PM on October 22, 2006

rxrfrx, yeah bizzare. The whole point of real sourdough is to not use baker's yeast. I guess they wanted a "sure thing" recipe since capturing wild yeast can be hit or miss. Still I suspect most sourdough's, even those from micro-baker's, are using commercial yeasts.
posted by stbalbach at 5:40 PM on October 22, 2006

I'll be damned.
Vegemite is banned in the USA, because it contains folate, a vitamin that in the USA is only allowed in breads and cereals. The USA government has (as of 2006) stepped up the ban, going so far to even search Australians for Vegemite when they enter the country.
This folate stuff must be pretty terrible, I guess. But ...
In 1996, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published regulations requiring the addition of folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, corn meals, pastas, rice, and other grain products. This ruling took effect 1998-01-01, and was specifically targeted to reduce the risk of neural tube birth defects in newborns. There are concerns that the amount of folate added is insufficient.
What the hell? Next Independence Day, I'll be eating Vegemite while I read pornography by the light of my burning flag.
posted by swell at 6:04 PM on October 22, 2006

That article linked under "Sourdough" is kooky. Make "sourdough" by incubating commercial yeast in a covered bowl for a few days? Not quite.

No kidding. That starter is doomed to failure.

Coincidentally, I've got two loaves of sourdough on their final rise right now.
posted by Addlepated at 6:08 PM on October 22, 2006

I think the idea behind the ersatz sourdough in that link is that by making a starter (better known as a biga, poolish, chef, or whatever), you capture a lot of flavorful fermentation byproducts. You won't get any sour flavor (which comes from the bacteria and non-Saccharomyces-cerevisiae yeasts in a sourdough culture).

I sometimes do something similar by building flavor with a multi-day starter that includes both commercial yeast and a source of flavorful bacteria like yogurt or kefir. It saves the trouble of having to maintain a sourdough culture, which I seem to be inept at doing.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:45 PM on October 22, 2006

Vegemite banned?
posted by Wolof at 6:53 PM on October 22, 2006

Vegemite banned in the US? That has to be an urban legend. You need a lot of folic acid to reach toxic levels, and I doubt that even if you ate an entire jar of that wretched stuff you'd still come up short.

If vegemite is banned, why is it still for sale on Froogle? Why is there no notice saying so anywhere the FDA website?

And why can you still buy turnip greens at most American grocery stores?

This just sounds completely false. It really makes no sense. With as much pro-folic acid propaganda coming out of the media, banning vegemite for folic acid is even more non-sensical than the non sequitur stuff I've seen out of Washington the last six years.
posted by dw at 6:57 PM on October 22, 2006

And heck, if vegemite can't be exported to the US, then why does Kraft say this on their website:
2. I live outside of Australia and would like to purchase Vegemite. Where can I buy it?

Australian Catalogue Company:
US Toll Free 1800 808 0938
Simply Australian:
US Toll Free 1800 447 1187
About Australia Shop:
posted by dw at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Isn't folate that stuff pregnant women are supposed to drink lots of orange juice for? Do they want to sink half the Florida agriculture economy?

Sounds like poor research, confusing "allowing" with "requiring the addition of".
posted by casarkos at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2006

Sourdough is my favorite as well. I remember as a child my mother deciding that her next hobby was learning how to make the perfect loaf of French bread. Oh, that was a wonderful time. Every single night dinner had a couple of loafs of the most amazing bread. Even when I travel to the source, much of the bread failed to match what she produced. Then, it was on to the sourdough. Oh, take the perfect loaf of French bread and add the punch of an amazing sourdough starter- Heaven. Of course, a good slice of French bread mates well with a great slab of unsalted butter.
posted by caddis at 7:41 PM on October 22, 2006

Good post.

Bit of a derail, but I snickered a little when I read the bottom of this link:

"For more recipes you can browse on the Internet."

posted by blenderfish at 9:34 PM on October 22, 2006

So... nobody is concerned about the kidney cancer?
posted by Dunwitty at 9:55 PM on October 22, 2006

How can they ban Vegemite? Everybody needs it... it puts a rose in every cheek!
posted by cholly at 3:44 AM on October 23, 2006

Make "sourdough" by incubating commercial yeast in a covered bowl for a few days? Not quite.
Do you prefer Carl Griffith's 1847 Sourdough Starter? Is that incubated and non-commercial enough for you?? (as seen on)
posted by whatzit at 7:44 AM on October 23, 2006

The Staff of Death

Humans simply aren't granivores. Sure, we can choke it down, but we don't have lectin-blockers like real granivores. When you eat wheat, you eat the seed; it's a fundamental transgression of the "deal" animals and plants have going. That's why most seeds are poisonous. Wheat is not an exception. Granivores develop enzymes to counter those poisons—but humans aren't granivores. So is it any wonder that as soon as people started farming and eating bread, we also started getting really, really sick?

Of course, that's not a big point in Atkins' favor, either. What Atkins glosses over is a very important point: primates in general are very big on the fruits.
posted by jefgodesky at 8:19 AM on October 23, 2006

Kidney disease? Rotting teeth?

We all have to go someway...why not enjoy a thick slice of homemade white bread, warm from the oven on a fall afternoon and savor the small indulgences. . .
posted by whimsicalnymph at 3:26 PM on October 23, 2006

Raw potatoes or beans are toxic? Huh?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:19 PM on October 23, 2006

I was thinking more of the cancer, but yes, raw potatoes and beans are toxic. So is alcohol. You can ingest a lot of toxic things in small enough quantities. Do it often enough and it starts to kill you.
posted by jefgodesky at 5:38 PM on October 23, 2006

Please give a reference for the "raw beans are toxic" claim.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:56 AM on October 24, 2006

Well, yes, potatoes are toxic -- if you eat enough of the ones that have turned green. And certain beans are poisonous as well, though lectin poisoning is still rare, and the poisons are destroyed by boiling for 10 minutes or with a soak (and then pitching the soakwater).

But honestly, there aren't a lot of foods out there that AREN'T poisonous on some level. Bread and other cooked starchy foods contain acrylamides, though the actual level of toxicity of those chemicals is heavily debated. For as many good things broccoli has, it also contains a known carcinogen. Cook meat too long and you get carcinogens in the charred parts; cook it too short and you risk O157:H7. Milk was a leading cause of death related to food poisoning in the 19th century. Honey often contains botulinium spores (which is why children under 1 cannot have it). Corn led to peliagra among Southerners in the 20th century. Soybeans contain phytoestrogens and may be a risk factor for breast cancer.

And fruits aren't off the hook -- the prunus family is notoriously poisonous, though most of it is in the pits and leaves. That includes cherries, plums, peaches, and all their variants. Almonds are a non-poisonous mutation. Apple seeds contain cyanide, though you'd have to eat a lot of them to get sick.

So is it any wonder that as soon as people started farming and eating bread, we also started getting really, really sick?

That's a disingenuous statement, since the reality is:
1. Grain allowed for permanent settlement, and permanent settlement meant more vectors for disease.

2. The problem isn't eating grain, it's ONLY eating grain. The poor suffered from not having a balanced diet -- that's what Diamond and others were pointing out with the height studies. The major grain related diseases, e.g. peliagra, came about because people relied too much on one cereal grain for calories.

Eating grain in itself is not a hazard to humans. Eating only grain is a problem.

primates in general are very big on the fruits.

But they also eat meat and grass. They have a pretty balanced diet. It doesn't rely heavily on meat, but meat is still a key component. Eating only fruit means you will come up short on B vitamins and some amino acids.

And keep in mind that chimps live in the equatorial areas of Africa where there's an abundance of fruit thanks to the consistent weather. And also, remember that while humans have a lot in common genetically with chimps, we branched off millions of years ago and started moving around. We've proven that while we may be short-sighted and stupid, we're adaptable.
posted by dw at 8:35 AM on October 24, 2006 [2 favorites]

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