Below the butter: bread

Note: More pictures to come!

This weekend Elyse and I took a trip up to Massachusetts to visit the Berkshire Mountain Bakery featured in Michael Pollan‘s Cooked documentary.

Bread has always been an interesting topic for me and there is a past post where I talked about bread and butter and the idea that around the time we started removing the butter from our fridges and counters we started seeing more gluten intolerance.

When I was a kid I would pilfer butter and bread in the moonlight while everyone was sleeping. Bare chested I would take a plain slice of Wonder bread, spread a thick layer of butter on it, fold it in half and smash it together, and eat it.

[A superior butter transport is in fact raisin bread which allows 2 sometimes 3 layers of butter before caving in under structural stress. I studied this. The raisins act as miniature tension rods.]

Sometime in my 20’s I did this diet where I eliminated bread from my diet. I read things about gluten, gliadin, schizophrenia, gluten ataxia, various autoimmune disorders, etc., and decided to throw my main butter transport ship out the window. I most certainly ate less butter as a result.


20160626_160302This past year I really began to branch out in experimenting with various sources of carbohydrate. I largely avoided wheat before that, aside from the occasional sprinkle in stews and gravy. So I decided to spread my cheeks and blow a nice medium winded gluten free fart over the Internets gluten dusted bible and investigate it’s pages further. I started looking for plain breads that were made with no oils. I’ll give you a dollar for each loaf of bread I found without oil (feel free to laugh and/or cry on that one).

I finally found some local artisan bread (artisan is short for hippies in garages charging high quality prices for low quality shit) at Whole Foods, had it sliced and began to nibble on it with butter. I made some grilled cheeses, some garlic bread at one point, etc. It was good, I was excited, but after a while I lost interest, it didn’t rekindle my childhood memories of bread and butter, and I’m definitely not the type of guy who wants good bread to sit down and eat a loaf of it, I just need a proper transport. And honestly I’ve never found in all these years a suitable alternative to bread and I’m not the type of guy to settle for anything but the best. So I went without it.  I moved on and began to look at approaching the bread problem myself, got a book, did research, figured out the problem, and then never followed through because of work related activities. But my plan was to work on my own starter and use long fermentation times. Stuff like that takes a lot of time to work on.

I was on Netflix one day looking for something interesting to watch and saw the Cooked documentary up there. See I really hate food documentaries, they give me reflux. But I couldn’t find anything, so I bit my brain tongue, turned it on, and prepared myself to be transformed. It turned out it was 4 episodes. I watched them all and was pretty impressed.

I liked all the episodes but the episode where they featured the Berkshire Mountain Bakery caught my eye, this guy did shit the right way and the one thing he said that I could experimentally test was the “spit test”. He said essentially that with fake bread you always have to have something to wash it down (I would agree), and that real bread causes your mouth to produce saliva as it begins the digestive process. So I looked to see where his bakery was and boy was I a happy camper when I found out he was only a few hours away.

There were two locations within 30 minutes of each other. One was like a pizza slash cafe type deal and the other was were the magic happened and the main bakery.


The town the place is located in was small and reminded me more of how New England is supposed to feel whereas Connecticut seems more like a ghetto the size of a state. I grew up in a conservative religious family and my father was essentially a fanatic. When you grow up that way and your brain develops and starts thinking freely you develop this kind of weird sixth sense. You know those small towns were everybody is polite and nice but you know they are engaging in candle lit cannibalism? Yeah that kind of town where even the hippies are conservative. I can detect that 10 miles out. I can’t be sure if it’s some type of electric field I’m tuned into or the faint smell of witches burning in the air.

The purpose of this trip was the spit test to see if this bread made my mouth salivate and to decide whether or not we would place a bigger order online to store in our freezer. We tried some samples, and holy shit, not only was my mouth salivating and producing an abundance of spit, but for 30 minutes after it was like my mouth was watering. We bought some raisin bread, various different named breads, a chocolate croissant, and some other things Elyse picked out. Everything was priced much less then what I’d expect for such a labor intensive product.

20160626_170452We then went over to their pizza and cafe place. Ordered a cheese pizza and waited about 15 minutes. It smelled wonderful. At first when we opened it was kind of strange seeing actual real mozzarella on a pizza as real mozzarella when melted has almost a wet rubbery appearance that can be off putting. So we went out in the car to try it while we were driving home. Holy crap, easily the best pizza I’ve had in my life and growing up I’ve had pizza from all the major pizza regions. The pizza crust was done the same way, slow fermentation, it caused elevated spit production, and there was not lead ball sitting in my stomach after eating it.

The entire experience was enlightening, stimulating, and the kind of thing I associate with curiosity and that curiosity eventually took us on this adventure. That is the way life should be, for better or worse, an adventure.

Beyond the butter, there is the bread, and if the bread sucks it ruins the butter and that is not a good thing. There are things that happen during slow fermentation that don’t happen with manufactured starters and other methods that are used to speed up the bread making process. I think there is good reason to believe that something is fundamentally changed when bread is done right and I think there are very few people who are reading this who have ever had a real piece of bread and felt the sensation, the tangy taste, the light spongy moist texture, and the pleasure of a proper butter transport.

[Europe your bread is better then America’s but this isolated bakery just beat you with a stick.]

In my past post I talked about how when we stopped putting butter on our bread it seemed like we started having an elevation in gluten intolerance and allergies. Not only did we stop eating butter on our bread we stopped making bread right.

If your feeling dangerous give it a try if you can. They have a $50 order minimum but it can be frozen. If you are in search of a butter battle ship this is the one, see on you on the starboard side, look for the guy having the left over roast beef sandwich.

Best wishes,

Your ideas on nutrition are superstitious

The first paragraph in the Wikipedia Nutrition article sings the following tune:

“Nutrition is the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food (e.g. phytonutrients, anthocyanins, tannins, etc.) in relation to maintenance, growth, reproduction, health and disease of an organism. It includes food intake, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion.”

I think the person singing that song is a bit out of tune. I think the definition promotes a sort of thinking that is conducive to an idea that we are black boxes. That given a rigid set of nutritional parameters, we can expect a sort of uniform response from the organism. Like a rat study where you have caged animals and the experiment group gets fed one thing and the other group gets fed another and they uniformly have on average the same weight gain or lack thereof in their respective experimental groups. For example, feed a group of mice the Western diet, they get fat, while the chow fed control group stays slim.

But what is wrong with the experimental design is that it fails to simulate a natural mouse-like environment. And I think most would acknowledge that. However, to get them to be honest about the implications might prove more difficult.

The evidence of this phenomena can be experienced just by pulling the blinders back, stepping outside, and taking a look around. Take a look at the culture you live in, you’ll notice that generally people tend to follow the “when in Rome” mentality adapting the lifestyle and eating habits of the natives. Yet you’ll see polar reactions, some seem to thrive while others seem to have nothing but problems.

Or in a different way you can take a group of people with the same beliefs, eating habits and sense of community and you’ll see that they generally react in the same way as the mice in the cage. Pluck one out take them to a new geographic location and things change.

Those observations point to a point I made in a previous comment that the physiological reaction of a organism depends on the context where the organism is present. And this points to the idea that there is a very intimate interaction with an organism and it’s environment.

I have no doubt that people eat in various ways to combat health problems with great success, you have COPD, eat some butter, you sneeze or feel congested or have wheat belly after eating wheat, you avoid wheat. But while those things might provide symptom relief, the question then becomes, have you solved the problem? And how can you know that you solved the problem? What is the litmus test? It’s very tempting for people to say well wheat is like antifreeze for me, people who drink antifreeze die, so I should avoid it.

But most people including those who live long and healthy lives often eat wheat, so the question should be why can’t I eat wheat, what is broken, how did I break it, was it simple cause and effect; I ate a lot of wheat and I broke my wheat digestive powers?

And then:

Do I care if I can’t eat wheat? Will I have anxiety about not being able to eat wheat for the rest of my life? Will I burden society as a whole with an International gluten-free campaign so that I can get everyone off gluten so that I can feel normal?

Will I be Paleo, sign-up for CrossFit and start a blog with a selfie showing my hot abs or ass, and try to convince everybody else that this is the right way and the rest of us sinners are going to hell (even though most likely those are opportunistic photos taken when I’m not feeling like shit)?

H/T to those of you who really don’t feel like shit.

Meanwhile the sinners are quietly eating their cheeseburgers.

To think that the way you eat is right for everyone is at the root the thinking of an authoritarian control freak who is the poster child for a person suffering the delusion that they are in control of their life. When most likely that person is anything but in control of their life, feeding into a self-fulfilling delusion that the more variables they can control in their life the more they can skirt the issue of actually having a life, living their life, and enjoying their life.

This post has been overdue, as for the past year I’ve been experiencing paradigm shifts in my thinking as a approach the world in a more honest way. And approaching the world with peeled back blinders is always a good thing even if you have to put a foot or two in your mouth. I am not content with fossils.

“Possessing opinions is like possessing fish, assuming one has a fish pond. One has to go fishing and needs some luck—then one has one’s own fish, one’s own opinions. I am speaking of live opinions, of live fish. Others are satisfied if they own a cabinet of fossils—and in their heads, ‘convictions.’” ~Nietzsche

Although my cabinet of PUFA fossils is well intact aside from flirtations with animal products that tend to contain higher amounts of them :)

Over the next few months or whatever I’ll be plucking out old blog posts and updating things based on new information and why I’ve changed my mind (but the old blog posts will stay up for illustrative purposes). It shouldn’t be too hard as my views on saturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are still the same and I still am metabolically focused. But some of my views on carbohydrate have changed dramatically. Bear in mind that my blog is personal, everything I do is not 100% transferable to empty vessels, but I hope it still can provoke the asking of questions and generate criticism good or bad.

More to follow soon. Thank you for the continued questions and comments during these dark times. Till then have fun!

Best wishes,