Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Give us our Daily Bread!
It doesn't take long to learn the basics and in this household, it is about Bread. Yes, I said bread.
In every Belgian town there are at least a couple local bakeries. Beside location, different operating hours, they offer various types of baked goods and specialties of the area. Some have an elaborate selection of pastries and tarts while others specialize in various breads.
In our house, there are GOOD bakeries and NOT SO GOOD bakeries. I was told early on which ones made the cut.
Like the USA, you can find bread sold in the markets and even in the supermarket, BUT heavens no, this is a LAST resort.
Before coming here, I was not a big bread consumer. Somewhere back in my carb depleting days, I took it out and ever since then, it really didn't rate high enough in the taste/fun spectrum to warrant the caloric intake. I happily replaced it with other grains and my all time favorite the Sweet Potato. I know the sweet potato is a vegetable but it's a starchy carb. High in vitamins and fiber. Yum. My bike friends all remember seeing one wrapped in foil in my back pocket on many occasions! I haven't searched for any here but also have not seen them either. White potatoes are EVERYWHERE. After all, this is the land of Frittes. Thankfully I am not a fried food fan.
Therefore, in lieu of my sweet potato loss, I have returned to the world of bread. WOW, I'm impressed.
In my new world that consists of bread being the #1 staple, what happens when one is too late and misses the bakery? Have no worry! As a last resort there is the "Broodautomaat". For all those busy or forgetful bees, outside of most bakeries, there is a wonderfully strange vending machine that holds the remaining breads of the day. Voila! You are no longer bread-less..
On one of my many visits here, Mr. X had committed to cooking/catering for a friend's party. We had the kids here that day and he was juggling cooking 3-4 different items. There was a tinge of stress in the kitchen. All of a sudden Mr X remembers we have no bread! It was Sunday. I ran out to one of the not so good bakeries and it was closed. I sheepishly came back bread-less and then remembered the broodautomaat! "Hmmm, can't be tough" I thought, and I'll save the day.
I approach the big machine outside the now closed bakery. Insert a 2 euro coin. It opens. What kind? All the writing is in Flemish! The shelf that appears to have the "wit brood" is empty! Oh no, what's the etiquette here? Can I open up the bags and have a look? Is the door on a timer? Should I get one? "Think fast" I say and grab a bag. Whew..took a look. IT HAD RAISINS!! Oh that shouldn't be a problem, I think as at least it's bread. I proudly bring my purchase into the kitchen. Holy S**t! you'd think I had just brought in a loaf of moldy dry bread crusts.
I freaked and ran out to the closest local market around the corner. I approached their limited selection of bread in the case. I studied them for raisins. I found a loaf that fit the bill. Oh no, I have to slice it! first of all the USA if you are to buy a loaf of unsliced bread you have to either take it home and slice it yourself OR some insured employee takes it from you and does the dirty deed. Here? They have a "serve yourself" apparatus. Instructions you say? Yes, but again not in "Engels". My eyes scoured the store hoping someone else would be buying a loaf and I could nonchalantly watch them do it first. Not a soul went for it. Thoughts of finger shredding went through my brain. I opened the large metal door. I put the bread it. I pushed the button! I closed my eyes and yes, the loaf was beautifully sliced :) All 10 digits still intact, I paid the clerk and ran to the apartment. I was redeemed! We were a household of bread with and without raisins and life could now go back to normal.
At some point, I explained my vending machine woes to Mr X and he had no clue! He didn't know I had bought it there. Nor did he know that broodautomaats are non existent in California. He, of course, apologized yet I WILL NEVER look at a raisin the same.