All Puffed Up About Bread, Love, and Heritage.Breads and Muffins / April 22, 2016
I suppose no treatise on food would be complete without mentioning bread. Yes, I thought you’d agree. Look at that butter dripping off the edges of a warm, brown crust. You are loving it, I know. There is something almost poetic l about this kind of food; the way yeast billows its way into our hearts is so comforting because it is the mascot for our survival as a species.
Think about it. Every culture on earth is seemingly founded upon the worth of their loaves. From Moses to Caesar to Genghis Khan, we see the path of civilization rise literally from the insides of a loaf pan. Our history of the world seems to have begun with a slice, crust, wafer or knob of BREAD.
Before I launch into a full blown screenplay worthy of the Discovery Channel, let me explain why I am writing in an almost scriptural way. The story of these biscuits you see here begins long before I was wearing an apron. It was birthed by a great Aunt who, although unable to show love outwardly, did show affection to others with her food. I heard about her over the years from my father, but the seed to recreate her biscuits began as my dad and I sat on a plane, ready to take a trip to Paris, Texas where he was going to be reunited with his (and I might add, “my”) cousins, after almost 40 years.
“I’m hoping one of my cousins can teach you how to make my Aunt Ada’s biscuits,” he whispered in an almost reverent tone. “I always see her hands in my mind, her fingers mixing the lard, buttermilk and flour… and then the taste. Oh, the taste of those biscuits….” and he was lost in memory.
During our visit we were immersed in memory. And I discovered so much more about myself through a heritage I had previously been unfamiliar with. And yet, through it all it seemed we still found a way to talk about food. I am working on a short story about the visit, so I won’t digress too much off the subject of bread, but suffice it to say, I was deeply inspired by my roots…and I learned what was needed to MAKE THOSE BISCUITS.
When we talk about lard, the non-fat, 90’s era side of our brains go into shock. We compare ingesting lard to the act of swallowing petroleum. But so much has changed in our collective catalog of food facts and we know now that lard is not our enemy but a gift that we must respect and hold on to. Which leads me to the real truth and that is you cannot make a perfect southern biscuit without it. Period.