The local loaf

I looked on top of my bookshelf this morning, the one I walk past numerous times a day, every day. There it was: nestled inbetween timeworn copies of French Provincial Cooking and Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, a little blue Feint notebook with ‘Recipes – Aug ’77’ written on the spine. My mother’s handwritten cookbook that – somewhat ironically for a food blogger – I had almost forgotten even existed.

That’s the trouble with living in a house full of relics from one’s past. Half the time you barely see these objects, let alone use them. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because when you finally do take a moment to pause and look, to draw something from a shelf or out of a box, with it pours emotion: the joy and sadness of a colourful burst of recollection that otherwise lies silently in your mind like muscle memory.

I have been trying to think of the recipes I learnt as a child. I know I did a lot of cooking and eating with my mum and my maternal grandmother, but trying to pinpoint exact dishes is difficult. As a foodie my list is probably longer than most peoples’, but it is still frustratingly short. This is partly why I was so delighted to have finally registered this small collection of my mother’s recipes.

Among the few dishes that Mum took time to note down in this book are variations on meals I had already put on my list: paprika chicken being one, Danish fruit cake, another. Most surprising for me, however, is the simple recipe pictured above for The Local Loaf: a simple wholewheat loaf that is remarkably similar to the spelt bread I have been baking regularly since my daughter came along. I don’t remember my mum baking bread. I certainly don’t remember learning to make bread with her, and yet here is an almost identical recipe to a favourite of mine, that she was making when I was nothing more than a future worry.

I find this thought beautiful, that memories of food can penetrate so deeply into the subconscious that they almost magically influence one’s taste preferences. And like CPR, while you might not recall who taught you to knead dough or when, once learnt, the rhythm cannot be forgotten.


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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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4 comments on “The local loaf

  1. July 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    That’s beautiful. It’s like how you watch gestures, flicks of the wrist or inflections of the voice being passed down generation to generation. I’m sure tastes do too (I’ve inherited my mother’s taste for over-salting, my father’s bottomless apetite for spaghetti alle vongole) so it seems absolutely right that food intuition, a sense of what would make the perfect bread, should be inheritable too x

    • July 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Thanks Hattie, it all brings a tear to the eye when you think about it. On a less serious note, it was very funny watching S with the bread dough this week, she kept burying her face in it. Tried over and over again to catch the full extent on camera but to no avail! xx

  2. July 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Beautiful post. What a special find, too. It makes you wonder what our kiddos will find to remind them of our time spent cooking together. Will blogs still exist then? I have notebooks I occasionally write in, maybe now I will keep them. xoxo

    • July 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks Bake, I agree, it does make you wonder… However hooked I am on blogging I can’t help but think nothing beats good old pen and paper – especially when I consider all of the many CD-Rs full of my old illustrations that I never look at. I wonder whether any of them are still viable? Keep both, I say! Xxx

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