Real bread

Spelt bread stall

I live in several places at the moment and today it’s Bristol’s turn. Hello city, I say, saluting its stone buildings, built to impress. I am at its medieval trading centre and, time travellers, Corn Street is still buzzing centuries later.

Every Wednesday, Bristol’s farmers’ market takes over the historic street and here’s the glorious thing: its stalls are bursting with real food bounty.

I buy fresh halibut from David Felce, the fishmonger (see mini pic below). I won’t talk about fish right now. (Except to say I pan fried the halibut gently for five minutes in olive oil. I usually use butter so that was an experiment. Served it with purple sprouting broccoli. Yup, it was good, she says smacking her lips after dinner. Simple and seasonal.)

The god of convenience has blessed me. My local Bristol farmers’ market also hosts the best bread in the world.

The Common Loaf Bakery uses spelt and rye, flours that have not been hybridised out of their natural existence like wheat has.

I bought a four-seeded (sesame, linseed, sunflower and poppy) spelt loaf and a spelt fruit bread laden with figs, prunes and raisins soaked in sherry, plus hazelnuts, dates, cloves and nutmeg. Not to mention the Celtic sea salt.

Hand crafted artisan bread. It doesn’t get more real than that. (I love those Christians with Hebrew names who make the bread, and keep the price down by living as one family. Respect.)

While in Pie Minister, Bristol’s pie shop, I pick up a copy of Fork.

Promising “no celebrity chefs,” its strap line says: the real food magazine.

Sounds just down my street…

David Felce, the fishmonger, sleeves rolled up, with fish stall

5 responses to “Real bread

  1. Fresh halibut? Not in Bristol, surely?

    I still recall from the rare occasions I paid attention in primary school that fish did not have feet. Not then at least. Nowadays, however, politicians and so-called experts like to panic the citizens of this country by implying quite the opposite.

    We’re warned ad nauseam (you try eating fresh halibut while you’re throwing up) to consider the carbon footprint of the food we buy. And that’s just for starters.

    By the time you’ve deliberated upon the levels of mercury, lead, molybdenum and other poisonous heavy metals, atomic waste, raw sewage and the wrong sort of leaves that may lurk in your glistening fillet, you’ll have thrown up even before parting with any coinage for it anyway. That’s if you haven’t died from rising sea levels and other political pronouncements before your anteperistaltic heave can get up a really good head of steam.

    But fresh halibut in Bristol? In a roughly similar misguided spirit, I’d like to know what sort of a carbon footprint a halibut sold in Corn Street, Bristol would produce, for I’m fairly certain it can’t have been landed anywhere near the Port of Bristol itself.

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  2. Dear Duncan,

    Firstly (all of this comment, second and third may come later) on poisoning ourselves; the higher up the food chain what we eat is, the more likely it is that it has concentrated the poisons in the environment.

    And if it it a fish (or shellfish) that generally lives on the continental shelves – it will really be ingesting these pollutants. Which is, of course, very good for the rest of the ocean. But it sort of seems sensible not to eat these attractors or the worst of human waste – our concentrated excrement does not sound like a desirable meal (although, of course, the monks used to eat Carp on Fridays; Carp mostly fed and fattened on the monks excrement – but that was not so bad; it was mostly human shit, not the shit that comes from factories). The fish that mature on the continental shelves live on the run offs from our sewage systems; not just excrement – but bizare stuff. Like what comes out of washing machines that use “biological” washing powders; Like the run offs of petrochemical fertilisers our farmers use; Like the endless list of industrial run-offs, just going into the sea.

    Fish, especially from the continental shelves (perhaps it all gets watered down in deep waters) is not a good choice for someone who doesn’t want to poison themselves.

    Like – its not healthy. Fish husbandry is a lying business; they don’t understand the diseases that fish in captivity develop, they then deny that wild fish could have caught these deseases from the captive ones.

    I really don’t understand this demented attraction to fish flesh. But then, I don’t like the taste. Hell, if you like the taste that much – eat it until you poison yourself.

    Sad though – I do far better food using only vegetables and fruit.

    Get wise.

    Yours, Neil

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  3. Neil, as always thanks for the discussion. I take your words on board. However I find myself resistant to the notion of a poisoned ocean. I do feel sorry for fish – I would hate to be eaten. But (paradox) it does not stop me eating fish. I feel a pang and eat it anyway. Then again, I love vegan food. Suits my constitution and soothes my shakras. I feel full of contradictions. Fishing (and meat production) on an industrial scale is wrong and unnecessary. But I support a person’s carnivorous right to choose.

    Duncan, I am pleased to report the halibut was fresh out of the sea at Whitby.

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  4. Re Neil’s comment again – The Ecologist reports that only 4% of our oceans are free of human activity. http://www.theecologist.org/news_detail.asp?content_id=1174

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  5. Hi Elizibeth,

    I’m glad you enjoy our bread and thanks for the mention on your blog. We only use spelt flour in our breads, as we want real bread as it should be. The spelt grain was used thousands of years ago by the Romans, and is even mentioned in the old testament. It is unmodified and has retained all it’s intended nutrition.

    We see that life is very similar (like modern wheat); modified, synthetic, lacking ‘real life’ and not as it is meant to be. So we are trying to live to that ancient ‘wholegrain recipe’, and find real life that really satisfies and sustains.

    We’d love to see you soon,
    Your friends at the Common Loaf Bakery
    http://www.stentwoodfarm.co.uk

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