Altri grani altri pani, the bread bible

In her book, Laura Lazzaroni explains how she discovered Bread with a capital B. A unique journey from field to table

17-01-2018

The word bread appears in both titles of the two best books published in 2017. Il pane è oro is signed by Massimo Bottura & friends and I wrote about it hereLaura Lazzaroni, instead, has written Altri grani altri pani published by Guido Tommasi Editore. Both are not-to-be-missed.

Lazzaroni is a real journalist, whom we awarded in 2014 at Identità Golose, when she co-authored 10 Lezioni di Cucina with Niko Romito. So as to give an idea of her love for bread, when she opened a consultancy firm with Gianluca Biscalchin, a gourmet lover who expresses himself through drawings, she called it Bread. It cannot be a coincidence and in fact she defines herself as «a decent home-bread-maker».

Niko Romito portrayed by Alberto Zanetti

Niko Romito portrayed by Alberto Zanetti

A recent passion, as stated in the prologue: «Until two years ago, I had never eaten Bread: I had eaten “bread”; but not “Bread”». The story of her childhood relationship with michette, Laura is from Milan, ciabattas and large loaves of “countryside bread” follows. As I’m also from Milan, I found these images were very close to my heart.

As for “bread and Bread”, with the different initial letter, in this confession there’s the difference that affects those who eat while acquiring a decent knowledge of the topic, and those who transform food into their reason for living, their hobby, passion, profession and can tell when a product is absolutely good. They often eat, knowing there’s better, much better.

The turning point arrived when Laura realised she was «eating Bread for the first time. It was the aroma that surprised her: a strong, complex aroma. Till then, I had only perceived one strong aroma of… bread. Then I realised that what my nose had memorised till then was in fact brewer’s yeast. But that loaf in particular, though only made with flour, water, yeast and salt, smelled like honey and fruit. Soon after that I tasted another loaf with a strong floral aroma; then one that tasted of herbs, and chestnuts. (…) This was Bread. I had made it. How did I get there?».

The book starts from this question. The meeting with Alice Waters, the creation of her (Lazzaroni’s) mother yeast starting from two books that are an essential part of her life, «the omnipresent Cooked by Michael Pollan and Il Senso di Davide per la farina, by Davide Longoni» until the final paragraph:

Davide Longoni in a photo by Guido Rizzuti

Davide Longoni in a photo by Guido Rizzuti

“Il mio pane, ricetta finale con l’aiuto di tutti” that is to say “Ricetta semplice per pane rustic alla mia maniera”, describing her recipe for bread. Which can easily become your recipe too.

There’s a total of six chapters: Wheat (from which everything starts, even though we forget), From field to mill (featuring Filippo DragoRenzo Sobrino and Enrico Giacosa), In America (Laura lived and worked there in the Zero years), In the oven (with, for instance, Eugenio Pol and Davide Longoni), At the restaurant (and here we have two giants like Niko Romito and Franco Pepe), and finally What remains of bread and the afterword by Salvatore Ceccarelli.

There’s a Bread making diary, there are hundreds of accurate and useful notes and thoughts, there’s lots you can read and learn from. And the more I read, the more I got angry for the treasures that history, mankind and nature have scattered from one end of Italy to the other. We have an incredible range of wheat varieties, defined, often mistakenly so, as ancient wheat varieties. But we also work in bad conditions because of the policies applied in the last few decades.


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