Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Want to be Real Bread

I've been reading Matthew again,
toward the middle, where Jesus speaks in parables
about the kingdom of heaven.
And as I have been reading them alone in the mornings,
and then to my children later in the day,
I find myself reflecting on them.

A very short one:
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, 
which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal 
till it was all leavened.

There is more than one section in my cookbook on bread.
One is labeled Quick Breads.

There are chemical leavens, and biological leavens.
The biological leavens are not used in quick breads.
"Chemical leavening was first publicized
by Amelia Simmons in her American Cookery."
Ahh: the truth is out.
American innovation and production -- whip that lazy bread out faster!
That is not the kind Jesus was talking about.
This one takes time.
This leaven is alive: baking soda is not.

Who needs to wait around for the bread to rise?
For something living to work its way through grain
that has been ground to powder?
For the water and leaven to biologically change the chemistry of the flour?

With a chemical leavening agent, chemical expertise is necessary
to create a functional leavener,
that doesn't leave a chemical flavor in the bread.
Biological leavening agents improve the flavor as they work.
The very process itself makes it good.
The fermentation transforms the dead and tasteless food
into something good to eat.

"Unlike chemical leavening,
which usually activates
as soon as the water combines the acid and base chemicals,
yeast leavening requires proofing,
which allows the yeast time to reproduce
and consume carbohydrates in the flour.
Yeast can unhydrate itself and then rehydrate itself later."
Hmm. Time to reproduce.
Time to eat.
And if the water is absent, it waits until there's water again.

Yeast can be used to make wine.
And the cast off yeast from the wine -- can be used to make bread.
Bread and wine.
We remember His body with unleavened bread,
but it is leavened bread to which He likens the kingdom of heaven.

There is one other worth mentioning: the mechanical.
You can beat air into something and then bake it,
and it is a form a leavening.
It creates a kind of puffiness.
Obviously Jesus wasn't referring to that.
Mechanically leavened foods are a lot of work.

"The Chorleywood Bread Process
uses a mix of biological and mechanical leavening to produce bread;
while it is considered by food processors to be an effective way
to deal with the soft wheat flours characteristic of British Isles agriculture,
it is controversial due to a perceived lack of quality in the final product."
My children always complain about store-bought bread.
"It has no flavor! It's not like real bread."

Processes related to living organisms must be waited for.
Conception is a moment, but gestation takes awhile.
Longer for some than for others.
My mother's children were all born early. Mine were all late.
One contraction does not make a birth.
Labors differ in length, too.
One cry does not make an eloquent orator.
And some kids have speech impediments.
Living things take time to reproduce, and to eat, and to grow.
And they need a supply of water.

I want my being to be consumed by the kingdom of heaven.
I want my chemistry changed by the living, reproducing, breathing Word.
I want His Life to work in mine in such a way that it enhances my flavor.
To be more than just me -- but united with Him and with you
in something altogether better.
I want to be real bread.

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