I have moved several times to Montreal. The first was to begin university in 2004 (but I only lasted one year) and my second was to live with a boyfriend last January. It was a tricky situation, me living in his room with nothing to do in Montreal except work at a cupcake store 12 hours a week, while he started his masters (this takes up a surprisingly large amount of time). To keep myself occupied I decided I would master the art of bread making. But I went about it wrong. I obsessed over the end result and it never turned out like I wanted. It was always too crumbly, too dry, too dense, and I didn't have the right sized pans. Then the oven started to spray sparks and my loaves came out burned and undercooked. I pulled at my hair in frustration in the kitchen: "But I'm following and doing everything I'm supposed to! Why isn't it working!" Soon the oven broke. The relationship didn't last much longer.
At the beginning of this year, I arrived in Montreal for a third time. It was definitely less stressful than time one and two, but still a transition that involved a lot of anxiety about the future and of course, expectation. I found myself again, although less so, in need of ways to occupy my time as I began my new life. One afternoon, to take a break from job hunting, I tried making bread in my new kitchen. It turned out like chalk: a heavy pasty crumbly loaf that my roommates tried to convince me was delicious. I was mortified.
Now it's almost the 1st of April and I'm beginning to feel more settled. I'm hopeful about spring and excited about my job at an outdoors clothing store. The loaves you see above, are those I made this morning. And although I have had other successful bread-themed undertakings, for the first time in my life, I have made perfect sandwich bread, perfect toast bread, perfect perfect bread, that isn't too crumbly, that slices well, that is moist, that has enough salt and is hearty. Am I cured of anxiety and expectation surrounding life transitions, my ultimate performance and bread making? No, not in the least, but I think things might be looking up and it has a lot to do with having faith in what I know, and letting go.
- Chef Murph