I hesitate before employing the adjective "sacred", in the case of bread, because its Christian overtones are overpowering. But it's surely the word I need. Bread has always been a vital substance in the most noble sanctuary that has ever existed: the home in which parents strive to feed their children and themselves. There were times and places (such as in early 19th-century Ireland) when bread was replaced by potatoes. There had even been a terrible period during which infected rye bread became the Devil's arm for torturing innocent peasants with the ghastly affliction known as Saint Anthony's Fire, depicted in this fragment of a painting by Hieronymus Bosch [1450-1516]:
This disease was finally conquered by clever monks whose hospitals and abbey were located in a lovely Dauphiné village not far from where I live. Their cure consisted simply of prohibiting the consumption of foul rye bread, and feeding their patients with pork broth.
In France, certain persistent superstitions (which I won't enumerate) remind us that we shouldn't fuck around with bread. After all, there are still hordes of magicians who claim that, with mysterious incantations, they're capable of transforming this archaic foodstuff into human flesh. Maybe I should speak rather of superhuman flesh, or even divine flesh. You know what I'm talking about: all that so-called transubstantiation bullshit, in which many otherwise sane folk claim to believe. In fact, I don't imagine for a second that they're really gobbling down cannibalistically a tasty little bit of Jesus's flesh. Besides, if pious folk all over the world have been consuming the Savior for so long, how come there's still a bit of him left? Is his flesh perpetually regenerated, like the missing tail of a lizard? What utter nonsense… and to think that people say they believe in that hogwash.
Let me get back to the "sacred bread" (inverted commas intended to remove all possible religious ambiguities) that I bake regularly at Gamone. It might or might not be religious, Christian, orthodox, Christ's transubstantiated body, or what the fucking hell… but my Gamone bread's bloody tasty. Just ask Sophia!
It's funny to admit that the initial phase of making Gamone bread consists in fact of my getting down on my hands and knees… but not to pray. I simply have to use a carpenter's hammer and a hunk of local tuff rock to break open a bowl of walnuts.
The recipe and the role of the bread machine are straightforward. Meanwhile, my dear dog is entitled to a few stray walnuts.
This photo is lovely. Sophia has put on white gloves (metaphorically, as it were) to handle that walnut, as if it were a rare delicacy, a treasure… which it is, of course, in Sophia's noble and generous mind (akin to that of an ancient Greek philosopher such as Socrates). At that instant, if my dog were a poet (which she surely is, in a way), she would be contemplating the opening stanzas of an ode to a walnut...