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Why Bread Baking During a Pandemic?

Two mysteries about scarcity shopping at the grocery store during a pandemic.  First of all, why toilet paper? And why bread baking?

Why Not Pickling? Why Bread Baking

Overnight, our two local grocery stores were completely emptied of every form of wheat flour and any form of baking yeast. It was almost like those flocks of birds that seem to just know which way to fly innately.

Why Bread Baking - Bird Flock Sheeple

Social media was also chock-a-block full of posts about sourdough starters, and sumptuous photos of freshly baked bread. All of a sudden, I can’t scroll through Pinterest without being gluten bombed multiple times. And even the home-bound desserts people are making are dough/yeast creations, like cinnamon buns. Or hot-crossed-buns.

But why bread?

It’s not keto. People could have gone with home pickling, canning vegetables, making gallons of soup, or making beef jerky in your home dehydrators. But they all chose bread.  Or if you needed a break from low-carb, why wasn’t it pies or cakes or cookies? Or teaching ourselves Thai food cooking? No, everyone chose bread…seemingly spontaneously. It was freaky, no?

I chalk it up to people looking for some semblance of safety. Bread is the very symbol of life itself. Our most basic food-stuff. So, I guess it’s no surprise that people were drawn to it when life got scary.  Especially in this country where we have incompetence in our Federal government.

In case you care, Thaddeus and I didn’t take up bread baking.

Thaddeus is very good at meal planning and cooking. And I sometimes share in the cooking for some dishes. But his shopping and planning for our food was challenged.  We tried to limit our grocery visits to every three weeks. So he had to plan three weeks at a time instead of one week.  We had to work around missing ingredients. Like corn tortillas.  Another mystery. Not a corn tortilla in grocery stores for the last six weeks. Plenty of flour tortillas. Just no corn.

Anyway, Thaddeus has done a fantastic job of keeping us fed.  We’ve actually both been able to lose a few pounds during this time. And we have plenty of toilet paper.

On a personal note, Facebook cruelly reminded me that I would be heading up to Easton Mountain today for the 2020 Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat.

Facebook Notification Reminder MSKR 2020

This has left a bit of a hole in my soul for the moment. Or at least it feels that way.

Current Knitting

I just can’t seem to stay faithful to one project.  Even when it’s a test-knit for someone who assuredly wishes I could.  I did get some additional work finished on the Danao Cowl.

Danao Cowl 05-11-20 01

But not as much as I might have. I did finish all the stranded knitting portion of the design, so the remainder should go rather quickly.  It’s a great design that will be published in 11 days.

Shortly after I took delivery of my Urth Uneek Fingering yarns, Doug, from The Perfect Purl sent me this photo.

Close-to-You-Shawl Uneek Fingering Yarn

It’s the “Close To You” shawl by Justyna Lorkowska.  It’s a kit on The Perfect Purl web site using two skeins of Uneek Fingering!

Fortunately, the pattern is free and I started my own immediately.

Close To You Shawl 05-11-20 01

Evidently, progress on the new GORGEOUS shawl took some knitting time away from Danao.  Sorry Crafty Lukas.

6 comments on “Why Bread Baking During a Pandemic?

  1. I’ve got some thoughts on the bread thing: 1) bread is considered a staple (and one people are potentially panicked about not having available); pickles are not, nor are cookies and pies. 2) Pickling and canning both require a quantity of a given type of vegetable– bushels and bushels of cucumbers, for example. There’s also the specter of food poisoning if you get it wrong. 3) Yeast has been in short supply (and is a product where manufacturing is hard to scale up quickly in response to the current situation), hence sourdough. In general, while a few people might be hoarding things, I think the shortages stem from the simple fact that most of us don’t eat at home all the time in the normal course of things. Since we’re forced to do so now, we are purchasing more of everything from the grocery store. And the infrastructure is simply out of its depth. It will take grocery stores time to catch up with new buying trends (and, as mentioned, some items don’t scale quickly). New shawl looks fantastic!

    1. I think this is all exactly right. But considering if you tried to get the entire country to start baking bread, it wouldn’t have been possible, but all the factors came together in just the right way that everyone became a bread baker.

  2. It is a curious phenomenon that bread baking was apparently everyone’s comfort go-to activity. I think the combination of being at home with lots of time on our hands and a need to feel safe. For me, there are a lot of sense memories tied to the process and product of bread baking – the feel of the dough reminds of learning to bake with my mother. The smell of yeasty bread baking triggers memories of happy holiday family gatherings filled with laughter. This combined with the dopamine high from the carbs . . .
    That being said, I bake bread (challah) at least once a month for our shabbat meal. I would do it every week, but there are usually time constraints. The shortage of yeast and flour (though that seems to be correcting itself) didn’t effect me as much as I always have 10lbs of flour and 3 packets of yeast extra.
    Shavua Tov – A good week to you all.

    1. mmmm…”the smell of yeasty bread baking” – Yes, it definitely triggers memories. I think realtors often suggest baking bread in a house before showing it for sale.

  3. I am going to get on the bread-baking bandwagon (by machine) so I can bake bread as I need it and save room in my freezer for more important things (like bacon and ice cream!). And I’ll put in a plug for pickles — we always had pickles around growing up (handmade only if I made them); now that I have a dishwasher again to sterilize jars, I’m looking forward to pickle-making. Until the bread machine arrives, I’ll be making butter. And we are planning to do our own cooking for the SEMKR, which I’m sure will include baking some bread.

  4. I think a couple of people have already hit on it: safety. I think the fear of scarcity triggers something deep in our lizard brains about what we need, and honestly, bread is elemental. You actually can live on bread (or rice) alone if you absolutely must, and the knowledge that you can keep yourself from starvation satisfies a deep and basic need. For a variety of reasons, I’ve been a bread baker for 40 years, and there have been times in my life where that elemental skill has made me feel very safe indeed.

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