Thursday, March 27, 2008

The beauty of the heel.

I finished one loaf of bread this morning and thus strode out this afternoon to acquire another. Today they had the good organic bread at the store, the kind that only costs 13p more but has a crust that makes me want to tear into the loaf before I even get it home. I've tried the whole wheat, I have, because I know it's better for me. While it's fine, it also seems to upset something in me, and that knowledge changes the experience of the bread for me. The white loaf, processed beyond nutrition though it is, gives me one of the best sensory experiences of my day: the mix of taste and texture and aroma when I take the first bite of a thick piece of toast spread with a light layer of butter and a light layer of honey. When the honey goes on the hot bread, it drags the butter into tiny cloudy eddies, but somehow the honey still stays the littlest bit clear. After a minute or so, the bread absorbs much of both honey and butter. If I'm lucky enough to be eating the heel--an experience that, of course, comes only twice in a loaf--I will be crunching my way through a cradle of sweetness. I will be thinking of my grandfather, who used to make me toast with honey and butter in the mornings when we'd visit Detroit. I will be appreciating the perfect substantial crisp, an impossible meeting of lightness and weight, of the crust under its layer of bread. I will be eating the toast with a cup of strong tea, thinking about all the places I have met that smell of bergamot. I will eat every last crumb of crust I can finger up off the plate. I will tell myself that the crust is where all the nutrients are, in the manner of apple peels.

These days, like as not I'll be sitting at my desk in a late afternoon's full sun, or before an early evening's striations of blue and darker blue and last light's gold. Now we are back in the year's light: if I walk out at 5, I walk back with the sun in my eyes. When I leave for dinner, I can still see the trees outside.


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