We were talking the other day about the knowledge paradox of teaching. My friend, who teaches engineering and design to high school students, was explaining the new CNC software he was navigating. “Last year this program was so easy to teach,” he told me, “because I didn’t know how to use it either. This year...” and with a quick series of clicks he demonstrated his newfound proficiency. The router started spinning across the screen, tracing the design he’d laid out. “This year I know too much.”
Just now, the stack of books by my bed includes a gardener's manifesto, a classic literary cookbook, a beautiful and cynical essay on the history of humankind, and Wendell Berry. In a week or two, the books will be different, but the stack will still lean heavily towards food and agriculture. Because so many of my friends, too, live lives built around food, I can often assume a deep and unspoken knowledge beneath our conversations. Without the shared obsession, where does the conversation begin?
I want to explain this business to you, the why and the what of it, but where do I start? With the flavor and nutrition of sourdough? With agricultural politics? With environmental ethics? My relationship with food has been built over a lifetime. Which stories do I use to lay my foundations? Do I tell you about the garden I kept as a child and my friendships with trees? Or do I tell you about the sinking sensation of flying over the country for the first time after reading Cadillac Desert and watching the circle-square patchwork of central spigot irrigation spread over the landscape? Do I tell you how, after a farmworker friend told me about her father shepherding each of his daughters across the border in turn when they were teenagers, about the fear and loneliness and the bodies in the desert, about how she’s never been back home, I went to her half-empty village in the Mixe and her grandmother made me tortillas? Or do I tell you about our Sunday brunches, the pleasure I feel when I look around at a house full of friends and laughter, with the sun rising towards noon, and the table scattered with crumbs and empty coffee cups?
I don’t have answers, but I’ll keep thinking about the questions. You think about them, too. Tell me about businesses you’ve encountered that effectively share their stories through advertising, design, mission statements, literature, or well trained staff. Learning to bake bread is only one part of building this business. Learning to teach people about bread might be just as important.
See you soon.
Owner | Baker
TODAY AT MARKET
Red & White
Mountain Rye + Vollkornbrot
Chocolate Malt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies
WEDNESDAY BREAD SUBSCRIPTION
*a whole wheat bread made with: with apples from the last few trees of an orchard remnent in the county not yet overtaken by scrub forest; pears from my grandmother's house; dried champagne grapes our 80+ year old neighbor planted along the fence; dried concord grapes from what was once an urban homestead; dried plums from the back alleys of Sunnyland; and dried apricots from the farmers market, because apricots are a sadly ungleanable fruit in the Pacific Northwest.