In the heart of the English word companionship you will find the word bread, such is the reverence given to this humble foodstuff. It’s from the old French compaignon, literally “one who breaks bread with another”. You’d never know this now of course because wheat has suffered a sharp, unfriendly rebuke of late. The staff of life has stuck in the mud, been rolled into the metaphorical fire and the problem is the now-infamous gluten.
Through what we call here at Upstate Dispatch unnatural selection, wheat has been transformed from a humble grass wavering in the breeze on the plains to robust grain. The very first wheat plants were Emmer and Einkorn and they were tough and the sheaves had to be toasted to soften them. You can find these original wheat strains in wholefood shops and it has been reported anecdotally that those with gluten intolerance can eat these kinds.
On a website called Grain Brain, you’ll find an apt quotation from the author of Wheatbelly, Dr William Davis: “this thing being sold to us called wheat—it ain’t wheat. It’s this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, genetically and biochemically light-years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago”.
Now, of course, you’ll find bread made from a variety of grains like oat, spelt, barley, rye and corn. If you’re able to enjoy bread at all, or in moderation, try some of the best most wholesome bread that the Catskills has to offer. Fresh bread, lovingly made with organic grains like the porridge bread from Bread Alone, is absolutely delicious. Small batch seven-grain bread from Machu Picchu bakery in Roxbury freezes well and toasts beautifully, so you can keep it in the freezer. All this bread, like Bread Fellows, based in Andes, should be eaten or frozen on the day of purchase, or shortly thereafter, as it’s entirely free of preservatives or chemicals and gets moldy really quickly because it’s real food. Toast frozen slices lightly on the lowest setting so the bread retains its flavor, texture and moisture.