A Brief History

Dough:  My connection with bread began with the first visit to Alesci’s market in Cleveland, probably in the late 60s or early 70s.  Sure, the open barrels filled with every kind of olive imaginable were pretty amazing and the round, waxy globes of aged provolone hanging from the ceiling were as interesting as they were pungent; the rows and rows of strange products – boxes of panettone, blue bottles of Brioschi, dried figs, paper-wrapped nougat and marzipan, marinated this and that – provided entertainment for sure, but it was the aroma of bread, fresh-baked Italian bread that smelled brown and toasty and delicious that got my mouth watering.  The loaves had a thick seam down the middle and were gnarled with swirls and peaks toasted to perfection.  The drive home was torture.  As in cartoons, the deep, warm odor of the bread drifted towards me, crooked its little finger and beckoned.  It took me 30 odd years before I tried my hand at making my own bread and now I fear I won’t have time to make every kind of bread, of perfecting my technique, of tasting all the different loaves, flatbreads, bagels and braids.

Dirt:  A dough of a different kind.  Just as worthy of digging one’s hands in, kneading and turning over – working the soil year after year to produce the perfect mixture of organic material to grow things – a miracle every time something green pushes out of the ground.  By age 6 a connoisseur of mud, clay and hummus, I could tell you which part of the stream bed yielded the finest mud pies.  Just a bit more sophisticated these days, my partner and I have planted an 80+ tree orchard, tend to a veritable hedge of asparagus and cultivate rows of tomatoes, peppers, onions, greens, radishes, carrots, melons and basil.  Grapes tendrils curl around their trellises and the hops have plans to take over the world.  The flower beds are an ever-changing palette of purples and reds and yellows and pinks which call to the hummingbirds, the honeybees and the bumblebees.   

Dye:  Another childhood obsession, this one leading me dangerously to a fine arts degree in painting and hence no firm foundation on which to make a decent living.  My desire to create and my love of art disappeared from time to time while I acquired other skills, paid bills, traveled, housed and clothed myself, got distracted.  Those artistic tendencies resurfaced during periods of professional calm and when I had space big enough to mess around in, never completely abandoned.  Today I have the luxury of being able to focus on art once again and have put my energies and creativity towards simply-designed and colorful greeting cards which I paint by hand.
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