01 | Jun | 12

Richard Johnson

Bread Of Heaven

It was army scientists who first brought us dried egg, freeze-dried coffee and processed cheese. Well, they’ve gone and done it again. With everlasting bread.

By lowering its acidity, and by chemically bonding its molecules to water, they have created a loaf (sic) that will stay fresh for up to three years at 26 °C. Our lives will never be the same again. But – thank God – some places are carrying on regardless, like everlasting bread never got invented.

The sandwich is a study in creativity, because (and I apologise for sounding like the Sandwich Information Bureau here) there’s no limit to what you can stick between two slices of bread. In Nice, they make the Pan Bagnat; in Paris the croque monsieur; and in New Orleans the Muffaletta and the po-boy. They revere their bread. It’s like Cairo. If you drop your bread in Egypt, you just kiss it and put it back on the table — bread symbolises the body of God.

Thanks to people like Richard Bertinet, Dan DeGustibus and the Real Bread lot, the British have started to revere bread too. I now know people who will pay £9.62 for a loaf of sourdough Poilane. The bread contains just flour, sea salt and water. It is hand-kneaded and baked for six hours in an oak-burning oven. But if I dropped a slice of Poilane on the floor – whether I was in Cairo or not – I would pick it up and kiss it. At those prices, who wouldn’t?

The Best Sandwich category at the British Street Food Awards is always hotly (sometimes coldly) contested. It was won, in its first year, by The Meatwagon’s classic burger. And last year it was the amazing salt beef from Laughing Stock. We’ve already had some serious contenders for the 2012 title. And this feature from the Huffington Post has really got me thinking……..