Monday, October 18, 2010

Last night I dreamed of gluten

When I lived in France, doing the junior-year study abroad thing, I spent a lot of time with my boyfriend at the discotheques. There was one place that closed at 3 or 4 in the morning, and we'd all stumble out into the darkness, tripping over cobblestones in the dim lamplight. Somewhere on the way home, there was a bakery that kept its doors open and let the smell of fresh baked bread drift out through the streets, beckoning us in.  Usually we'd grab a pain au chocolat and eat it as we walked home, drunk from too many beers (all of them full of gluten). One time we split a loaf of freshly baked artisanal bread, still hot to the touch. Last night I dreamed of this bread, remembering the hard crust that cracked open to reveal a soft inside that let off steam in the cold night air. I put my nose to it, savoring the smell. Even after the alarm clock rang, I stayed in bed, trying to hold on to the sensations of eating that bread for as long as I could. For the rest of the day I had bread flashbacks that no amount of chocolate helped.

I have spent so long trying to get over a basic need for bread that I'd blocked most of it out. I thought I'd gotten over it. (When I read that, I feel like I'm an addict. In a way, that's true.) It's been a whole day and I still want this bread.

There's a part of me that wants to take this on as a challenge to create the perfect gluten-free bread so that I can get over this craving and move on. However, I have never been any good at baking bread, even when I was able to eat it. I'm fine when it comes to quickbreads like banana bread or muffins, but somehow when yeast is part of the recipe, everything falls apart. Even so, I experimented with a bread machine for several months after I discovered I couldn't eat gluten in the hope of recreating a true bread experience. My last failed experiment actually looked like a large amoeba. If my bread had been in a bad B movie, it would have flopped over the edge, moving over the floor making "thwock-thwock" sounds. So I gave it up and used it to make wheat and rye bread for my husband and consoled myself with the idea that it made the house smell nice.

Tonight I made brownies to get over my dream. They look like a chocolate amoeba.

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