Skip to content

Garlic Bread of the Revolution

According to a former lover, I make a garlic bread so good that “it could start a revolution.”  It’s pretty damn good, I’ll admit.  And maybe it could.

Cooking is kinda revolutionary in its own right.  It shouldn’t be–it’s something humans have been doing for thousands of years.  But we’ve all become alienated from a lot of the things humans have done lately, and there’s no better place to start recovering this than the kitchen.

Besides, cooking is pretty close to witchcraft. So, I’m gonna tell you how to make my garlic bread, and give you a little revolutionary history and theory behind some of the ingredients.

First, let’s start with what you’re gonna need. Ingredients don’t have to be organic, ’cause I’m assuming you’re probably as poor as I am and most of the people I know. Organic food, at least in the United States, is so much more expensive than other stuff that it’s just not for ‘the poor.’ We should change that sometime, seriously.  But ’till then, get what you can, okay?

It’ll still turn out awesome.  You’ll need

  • One loaf of thick-crusted bread, preferably sourdough.
  • 1/4 pound unmelted, salted butter (not margarine)
  • An entire head of fresh garlic.
  • some Parsley (must be fresh)
  • Oregano (can be dried).

Got all that?

Now, you’ll also need a really sharp knife, so get yourself the best knife sharpener (or serrated), an oven set to 350 degrees F (175 C), a small bowl, and some time. Cooking takes time, which you maybe don’t have a lot of because you have to work to survive. We’ll talk about that in a bit.

The most important thing you need to know about this recipe is DO NOT MELT THE BUTTER.  You’re gonna want to soften it, but don’t let it melt until the whole thing is in the oven. And don’t replace any of the ingredients if you want to make ‘my’ garlic bread.  You can really do whatever you want (please do!), but it’s no longer this garlic bread, it’s something different.


Step One: Soften the butter.

This is best done by putting it in a bowl at room temperature beforehand.  It won’t go bad. The goal is to make sure that it’s soft enough to mix but not melted, otherwise the fat and liquid in the butter separate.

Step Two: Peel & Chop the Garlic

You have fresh garlic, right? Not powdered or granulated and definitely not ‘garlic salt,’ right?  Awesome!

Peel at least half a bulb of garlic, between 5-10 cloves. You can use a fork to crush each clove slightly which makes it peel easier.  Then, take all your peeled garlic and chop it finely.  Use a heavy knife with a decent blade.

Put all that garlic in the bowl with the butter.

Step Three: Rinse and Chop the Parsley

You want about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. It’s a crucial ingredient for this, not a garnish, not just for color.  Run a handful under cold water, squeeze it out, and then chop it as finely as you feel like doing so.  The smaller the pieces, the more distributed the flavor, but also the more likely the whole thing will turn green.

Add the parsley to the bowl of garlic and butter.

Step Four: Add Oregano, mix, and wait a bit

Add a large pinch or more of oregano and then stir the whole thing until it’s soft and well mixed.  I usually use a fork for this, as it cuts the butter a little bit, so if it’s not quite soft enough you can use brute force to mix it.  Don’t get impatient and try to soften the butter by other means (microwave, magic, blowtorch)–melting ruins the whole thing.

Now, wait a bit.  You can totally do other stuff while waiting, like make a salad or pasta or read the rest of this essay. You want the fat in the butter to have a little time to absorb the flavors from everything else.

While you’re waiting, let’s talk about two of the ingredients, the Bread and the Butter.  If you’re impatient, Steps Five, Six, and Seven are a bit further down.


Peasant Bread’s an Art

If you got a thick crusted bread like I suggested, you probably bought an ‘artisan’ bread. “Artisan” bread became sort of a ‘thing’ in the United States about ten years ago.  They’re thick-crusted breads, usually with only three or four ingredients, and take on characters of taste because of the way they’re baked and the age of the yeast.

‘Artisan’ bread is really just peasant bread, though. It’s a lot more similar to what bread was like several hundred years ago than what it is now, all soft and squishy, pre-sliced and wrapped in petrol-plastic.

The pure white bland stuff we usually have now requires heavy refining of the flour and removal of all the fibrous parts of the grains.  Removing so much of the plant also removes most of the micronutrients available, which is one of the (but not the only) reasons why factory-produced flour is now enriched.

Bread is, at its most basic, flour, water, and yeast.  Flour and water are pretty easy to understand, but the alchemy behind bread is the yeast, particularly with artisan breads. Many ‘artisanal’ breads use what are called ‘starters.’  These are bits of dough set aside and let to age, often with more water or milk added to help the yeast have more food.  The next time bread is made, this ‘starter’ creates the foundation of that loaf, and another small portion is reserved for the next loaf.  This process also cultures the dough, adding certain flavors which are impossible to get without a starter.

To get yeast now, we usually purchase little foil packets of dry yeast granules.  Before, though?

Before the advent of yeast culturing, wild yeast fermentation was used (knowingly or not) to attract yeasts (then thought of as spirits) into the wort. The brewers would often leave their brewing vessel in a special hut, uncovered, and say prayers over the brew. When the brew started to foam, they knew the spirit had entered. This wild yeast fermentation process was hit and miss, as sometimes a bad flavor (or spirit) would get into the ale, and it had to be thrown out.

Around the 15th century, some of the brewing monks started to catch on to the way the angels (yeasts) were working. They found that if they used the same wooden spoon to stir their cooled wort, the same good spirit resulted. This technique was also used by the latter day Vikings, but they used oak staves carved with runes. The reason why these tools worked their miracles was that yeast fermentation cultures would live in the wood. Even when the spoon or rune was dried, the yeast culture could live dormant in the wood until the next use.

The same process worked for both bread and beer.

Yeast will grow naturally in moist, warm enclosed areas where the yeast has something to feed it.  It also survives better in porous organic surfaces than it does on sterile, impermeable surfaces. So our modern obsession with plastic, stainless steel, and other non-porous surfaces mean we need external sources of yeast. Most modern things require a trade-off.

Bread Takes Time

Bread baking requires a lot more  than just buying a packet of yeast, letting the dough set out a few hours, and then baking.  What it requires most of all is time.

We have this idea, inculcated more from Media than from historical sources, that industrialisation has liberated us–particularly women–from the inconvenience, hard work, and time commitment required for household tasks like baking and cooking.

We should, first of all, get rid of the idea that cooking is a woman’s task.  Women were relegated to household work during the birth of Capitalism because they’d lost all other access to their means of production. The so-called “Nuclear Family” is a new idea, and it had more to do with keeping workers in line than it ever did with anything ‘traditional.’

How much time do you have to cook?  If you’re working 40 hours a week, probably not much. The 8-hour workday is never just 8 hours. It requires you to wake up early, feed yourself, commute to work, feed yourself on lunch (which is usually not paid), commute home, and unwind from work.

That leaves 6 hours left, assuming 8 hours of sleep.  But by the end of a shift, most people are pretty exhausted. And if you’ve got kids, you’re not getting much else done.  If you’re single, it’s also hard; you have to do all the work to keep yourself healthy, well-fed, well-rested and sane on your own.

But if you have a partner who can do some of that stuff for you, you might be okay. That’s where ‘housewives’ come in, a person who uses some of their time to help the person working maintain their existence as both human and worker. Cooking dinner, washing clothes, –all of those things you can’t really do for yourself after selling your own labor/energy to an employer (called the means of reproduction) are uncompensated in Capitalism.  From Silvia Federici’s “Wages Against Housework,”

In the same way as god created Eve to give pleasure to Adam, so did capital create the housewife to service the male worker physically, emotionally and sexually – to raise his children, mend his socks, patch up his ego when it is crushed by the work and the social relations (which are relations of loneliness) that capital has reserved for him. It is precisely this peculiar combination of physical, emotional and sexual services that are involved in the role women must perform for capital that creates the specific character of that servant which is the housewife, that makes her work so burdensome and at the same time invisible

For couples of any combination of gender, such tensions remain. In every relationship I’ve been in, the person who is working more (sometimes myself, sometimes the other) relies heavily on the other to keep him alive and sane. For every successful ‘worker,’ there’s someone else propping them up.

Of course, you could always go to a restaurant (you won’t get this garlic bread there, though).  In fact, restaurants sprung up in popularity at the same time as industrialisation as an auxiliary function. Don’t have someone to cook for you? You can pay someone else to do it, trading some of your money in exchange for a little more time.

That’s why you’re buying the bread for this recipe, by the way, and not baking it.  You don’t have the time to bake it yourself, and probably don’t know anyone skilled enough to make it for you.


Step Five: Slice the Bread, then butter the slices

You don’t want to slice the bread all the way through, by the way.  The hard crust, especially at the bottom of the loaf, makes for a natural ‘wrapping’ for this, and will also help keep the whole thing together. Slice into the loaf no more than 3/4’s of the way down, and repeat this throughout the loaf, making 8-12 slots.  Think ‘accordion’ or ‘fan.’   Don’t worry about precision; we’re not doing science, we’re doing magic.

Most people usually just slice a loaf in half and butter both sides. My way is better–you’ll see!

Now, take a spoon or knife and slather the garlic butter mixture into each gouge you’ve cut.  Distribute it evenly like the good communist you are, and any leftover can be added to the top.


War-Butter

You know how butter is made, yeah?  Cream from cow’s milk is churned repeatedly, adding air and breaking up the fat until most of the liquid (‘buttermilk’) can be removed. What remains solidifies as the churning continues, and it’s mostly fat.

Butter in the United States tends to have a lower fat-to-water ratio than butter in Europe, and also tends to have dyes in it to turn it yellow because of the quality of the milk.  Milk takes on specific characteristic of the land where the cow lives through the grass it eats, which is why milk from Ireland tastes different from milk from France, and why the cheeses made in either place have differences in flavor impossible to replicate elsewhere.  In the United States, though…well, keep reading.

Industrialisation changed a lot of the way we create and consume butter and cow’s milk.  Before industrialisation, we waited for the cream to rise to the top of a vat of milk naturally, a long process.  Eventually, machines which would separate the fat faster were developed, as well as machines which would do the churning for us.

Ever thought about 2% and ‘skim’ milk? The fat from cream is what makes butter. Removing most of it produces ‘whole milk,’ and all of it produces ‘skim milk.’  You might like like skimmed milk (I don’t), but either way, it’s worth knowing that 100 years ago, you couldn’t get anyone to drink the stuff. 

Butter-and-CanonsActually, it was considered ‘waste,’ a by-product of cream and cheese production. But War and the science of “Chemurgy” came to the rescue.

“World War II successfully reincarnated skim milk from a locally utilized byproduct into one with national and international appeal. Skim milk entered World War II before American soldiers did. The U.S. secretary of agriculture asked for expanded production from dairy farmers in July 1941, months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dairy products quickly became essential to the lend-lease and war relief programs. Whereas evaporated milk was the preferred relief food during and after World War I, dried milk powder’s transportability and long shelf life gave it the favored spot in the lend-lease formulary. By 1941, the federal government asked for 200 million pounds of dry skim milk powder for America’s allies. Dried skim milk manufacturers struggled to keep pace with the unprecedented demand.”

You may be old enough to remember a time that skimmed milk was cheaper than whole, maybe not. But through marketing, particularly on ‘diet’ concerns, skim milk is considered an equal product to whole, even ‘healthier.’

Ruminating on Corn

There’s something else important about industrialised dairy production you should know, though.  Since the logic of the Capitalist is to increase production while decreasing cost, and in this case the ‘producer’ is a cow, certain ‘technological advances’ have arisen to ensure that cows produce as much milk as possible with the least amount of cost.  Unfortunately, like many other Capitalist attempts to increase productivity, they’ve got some huge side-effects.

In the 1980’s, a recombinant bovine growth hormone, rBST, was developed.  It’s a hormone that  keeps mammary cells from dying, and so increases the amount of milk a cow can produce long past when it might normally have stopped lactating.  The United States approved its use in 1993, so it’s been around for 23 years. It’s been banned in Australia, Canada, and the European Union since 2000, though.

In the USA, milk coming from cows treated with hormones carries a label from the FDA stating,

“No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-treated and non-rbST-treated cows.”

Whether or not you trust the government on this one, there’s something worth noting. Increasing the amount of milk a cow produces often leads to ‘mastitis,’ or infections of the mammary glands.  Whether or not the pus from those infections ends up in industrialised milk is impossible to tell, but such infections are part of the reason why antibiotics are used in dairy production.

The other reason, though? Cows are rarely fed grass any longer. Instead, they’re fed grain and corn, despite the fact that they actually can’t digest it:

Cows see very little grass nowadays in their lives. They get them on corn as fast as they can, which speeds up their lifespan, gets them really fat, and allows you to slaughter them within 14 months.

The problem with this system, or one of the problems with this system, is that cows are not evolved to digest corn. It creates all sorts of problems for them. The rumen is designed for grass. And corn is just too rich, too starchy. So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick…

…You start giving them antibiotics, because as soon as you give them corn, you’ve disturbed their digestion, and they’re apt to get sick, so you then have to give them drugs. That’s how you get in this whole cycle of drugs and meat. By feeding them what they’re not equipped to eat well, we then go down this path of technological fixes, and the first is the antibiotics. Once they start eating the [corn], they’re more vulnerable. They’re stressed, so they’re more vulnerable to all the different diseases cows get. But specifically they get bloat, which is just a horrible thing to happen. They stop ruminating.

So, industrial dairy production affects the cows and requires antibiotics and other technological fixes to sustain it. And regional differences don’t appear when the cows are fed on the same diet (corn, grain) everywhere.

Despite all that, though, you gotta use butter for this Garlic Bread.  It won’t taste good, otherwise, trust me.

Besides, Margarine is just as problematic–you don’t hear of anyone making ‘home-made’ margarine for a reason.  You can’t. While butter existed before industrialisation, you probably don’t know anyone who can hydrogenate, fractionate, or interesterificate in their kitchen.

But don’t melt the butter, okay?  It’s the most important part.


Step Six: Bake The Garlic Bread

Put the loaf (slathered with butter) onto a baking sheet on the top rack of your oven.  The oven should be about 350 degrees.

You’re gonna want this in there for between 15 minutes to about a half hour.  I’m not gonna give you a precise time, because, like I said, magic, not science.  You’ll know it’s ready by looking at it.

Let’s talk about the other three ingredients while we wait for that to bake, yeah?


This Shit Grows in the Dirt

Herbs like parsley and oregano are pretty damn awesome, and usually have other fun affects besides just flavoring. For instance, parsley. Others can talk about the magical affects of it, but as a cook I can assure you that it’s too awesome to be just a garnish.  Parsley tends to balance acidity, and has a signficant flavor of its own that gets utterly lost when it’s dried.  The amount of parsley we’re putting in the garlic bread is about 4 tablespoons finely chopped. It’s pretty crucial to the taste.

Now, the Oregano is actually a little better dried, especially since we’ll be cooking this.  Fresh herbs are typically better used at the end of cooking as the meal is cooling down.  Basil’s a good example–fresh basil loses its flavor after it’s been cooked.  I almost never use dried basil, by the way–it has an oddly sweet, almost tequila-like taste that doesn’t mesh so well with most foods.

So, question though–where you gonna get these two herbs? Probably at the grocery store, right? Let me offer you a sigh of solidarity.  That parsley’s probably gonna cost you $1 to $1.50 for a large bundle that you won’t use all of unless you’re making tabbouleh later.  And the oregano? Like $7 or $8 dollars for a one ounce jar if there’s no bulk herb section in your store.

Here’s a tip, though.  You know that area in the grocery store where all the jarred spices are? IGNORE IT.  Instead, go find the ‘ethnic’ or ‘mexican’ food section (and grumble angrily, like I do, about how ridiculous these labels are).

Wait–are those…spices? Herbs? Why are they so cheap? Like, $2 for something that would cost you $8 one aisle over?  There must be something wrong with them, right?

Nope.  Not at all.  In fact, the ones in the non-clueless-person section are usually a bit better.  The grocery store’s just betting that you’re so alienated from cooking and food production that you’ll accept these ridiculous prices.  Herbs grow in the dirt.  Actually, almost all plants do. But because we in industrialised, urban settings aren’t anywhere near actual farming, we have less context and are more willing to accept what is sold to us.

I’ll actually tell you my own story on this. 16 years ago, I lived in a pretty awesome house with this really cool, beautiful evergreen-looking bush by the front door. Anyway, I was making dinner with a friend. I went shopping, returned home, and started preparing stuff when he showed up.  I pulled out one of the things I’d bought and he starts laughing.

“You fuckhead,” he says. (yeah, he was a really close friend).  “How much did you pay for that?

“Three dollars,” I said, suddenly quite concerned.

“You paid $3 dollars for 4 sprigs of rosemary when you’ve got a massive bush of it right outside your door?”

“Wait,” I said, confused.  “Isn’t that, like, ornamental rosemary or something?”

I actually took the organic sprigs I’d bought to the bush and compared them, hoping against hope I hadn’t spent at least $30 that year on an herb that grew literally out my front door.  But…yup.  I’d been had.

Parsley and oregano are both really easy to grow.  In fact, they do better being mostly left alone, and growing in poor soil conditions rather than rich.  But in urban settings, we have very little access to growing spaces and trade our time (in wages) to purchase something that grows happily, easily, and rather abundantly in dirt. However! With enough connection to a place, and some forethought, you can actually plant quite a bit of the stuff in places no one will touch it.  It’s called Guerrilla gardening,  and it’s a lot of fun.

The garlic is, of course, really important here. You’re using a lot of it for a reason–it’s garlic bread, after all. And by the way, it’s not going to be completely cooked through when it’s done.  It’ll still be a bit sharp, soft but not mushy.

I, uh,  hope you like garlic. I should warn you, you’re gonna smell like it the next day.  It comes out your pores, will be on your breath no matter how much you brush your teeth.

But that’s okay, right?  Except of course that some people will find it offensive, because the smells that the human body emanates have become generally ‘offensive.’  That was another long industrialised process, but I won’t go into that here.  My suggestion? Share this bread with people you really like, so you’ll all smell like garlic.

Now, ready?


Step Seven: Pull it out of the oven and eat that delicious revolt

Garlic BreadIt should be pretty hot when it comes out of the oven, so be careful, yeah?  Also, rather greasy. We did, after all, put 1/4 pound of butter in there.

Set it on a cutting board and once it’s cooled off enough, slice it down the rest of the way and serve it.  It’s damn awesome with pasta or salad.  Everything sorta fuses together, adding a extra flavor that wasn’t there.

Be warned, though.  Both garlic and parsley have this funny affect on the stomach; both speed digestion a bit, so you might find this weird thing happen where three hours later you want to eat whatever was leftover.  It’s kinda magical.

While you’re eating it, consider the history of the ingredients and their relationship to Capitalism, as well as what you don’t have access to because of Capitalist social relations.

Those herbs we used? They should be free, but most of us don’t have access to land to grow them. Same with the garlic–it grows quite well in most soils, and you eat the part that’s underground.

So much now goes into the creation of butter and other dairy products (like antibiotics and hormones) that it’s quite a moral choice to abstain from eating it. But taste that? That’s something people have been eating for thousands of years. In India, a type of clarified butter (ghee) is considered sacred and medicinal.  Capitalist dairy production, though, is awful.

And bread.  Feel free to get a bit grumpy about paying high prices for a bread that peasants made, often communally. In fact, there are lots of activities that are more time-efficient when done with others (like cooking large meals, baking, gardening, child care, etc. etc.) that we rarely do together any longer. Many of these activities are outsourced to Capitalist enterprises (like artisan bakers) who pay their workers less than the amount you pay for the bread.

Get a little grumpy, sure.  But also, you taste that? The deep earthy mix of parsley and garlic infused into the butter, how the whole thing tastes absurdly light and smooth despite being full of fat and carbs?  Smell how you almost get a little drunk on the garlic, how your body seems to warm in sensuous desire with each bite? How you don’t want it ever to end?

That feeling? Pure desire, pure enjoyment, intoxication of senses and a certainty that the world should have much more garlic bread in it, and a lot less useless harm and unnecessary sorrow?

That’s kinda what revolution is like.

Enjoy!


Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd is the managing editor and a co-founder of Gods&Radicals. He is a poet, a writer, a theorist, and a pretty decent chef. He can be supported on Patreon, and his other work can be found at Paganarch, and shirtless selfies occasionally seen on his FB. and also his Instagram


All our print works are available for order here

20 Comments »

  1. I just started working with sourdough and making my own starter. I’ve got two going, trying to play with different methods, and have been making an obscene amount of sourdough bread. All of which is to say, what an intoxicating and (for me) timely piece. Oddly enough the interest in sourdough starter is connected to the difficulties associated to herb growth in a place like NYC. I used to have an apartment in another part of the country with a rosemary bush I planted that was near as tall as me, and several huge basil plants, and… well, I miss it. We do our best with what we have, but I miss my garden desperately. So, we grow what we can as we can. Sometimes it is yeast. Thanks for this Rhyd!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Herbs are fairly easy to grow, even in an apartment. You can make a series of shelves out of cinder block and wooden planks (in college I did this for book shelves), put it in a window, buy some ceramic plant pots and you are in business. Many herbs are perennials (parsley isn’t – it lasts two years and then has to be replanted) and some annuals (coriander, dill) will self-seed (or you can collect the seeds and replant).

    Here on the east side of the state, hormone-free grass-fed beef is easy to get if you know the ranchers, but I can no longer afford to buy a whole steer. That sucks because grass-fed beef tastes better. It also helps to know the wild herbs, and have a huge herb and vegetable garden.

    I’m a director of a food bank here on the east side (the largest in rural NE Washington) – we get so much food we have to give some of it away to pig farmers. (You can buy pigs around here that are mostly organic too – lambs are hard to find at decent prices. I am loathe to shoot the deer, quail and wild turkeys I share my land with – the bear that gets into the garbage might be in danger though….).

    The best mead I ever made was with normal baker’s yeast. Sometimes wild yeast does get into my mead though and it comes out disappointing, My son-in-law makes beer.

    A local library has a seed library (take seeds in the spring – return seeds from your garden in the fall) and we are looking at doing that at the food bank. The local gardening club sells plants that do well in this climate zone (because they grow them from their seeds) at prices that far undercut the commercial nurseries. Of course to garden you need land (I have 8 acres mostly wooded) which kind of goes against some of your prejudices about private property. (Friendly poke.)

    I could make my own bread (I’m sure I can find a way to get pesticide-free wheat), but the food bank always has plenty of artisan loaves, so why bother? Not able to make jams without sugar but there is no shortage of berries and fruits.

    Eggs come mostly from my own chickens, though production drops in the winter.

    And I still have to go to the grocery store on occasion. Must…have…coffee….

    But the key here is that I could not feed myself without property. (Friendly poke gets serious) The magic of healing the land, of planting, nourishing and harvesting, of knowing there is more wildlife, more plant diversity on my little plot of land than on the much larger plots that surround me. But it is a lot of hard work. The person who asks me for help will likely get it. The person that starts harvesting wild plants off my property that I need and then tells me “the fairies said it was ok” (bullshit) is going to get his feelings hurt (and maybe their backsides).

    So capitalism is going to end someday – without any inputs required. It will end when cheap fossil fuels end. We have 30 years of proven oil reserves. So long as we have that, we are likely to live in a capitalist world. The key, IMO is to survive that without sacrificing our spirits to it. That is a book I could get into, but it may read more like a prepper manual! It is resistance though.

    Liked by 3 people

    • If we burn the 30 years of fossil fuel in the ground, you’ll need to move your operation to Greenland or learn something about farming in a tropical climate if you want to feed yourself.

      “The person that starts harvesting wild plants off my property that I need and then tells me “the fairies said it was ok” (bullshit) is going to get his feelings hurt (and maybe their backsides).”
      Is that the basis on which the food bank is run or are you just protective of your own labour? (Friendly poke)

      Like

  3. Sigh…… I wish I could over-Winter Rosemary, but Ottawa/Canada. When we bring the outside pots into the darkish house in Fall they languish. Parsley also sometimes doesn’t over-Winter and sometimes comes back for years longer than the books say it should. But I do grow a f-ton of Oregano and a lot of obscure herbs/weeds—- it’s a good thought, that if I wrote a broth recipe involving Lovage it would be revolutionary, neh?
    My take on owning a Tiny Urban Farm is that (1) I am wresting it from the uni-grass people, (2) I am preserving local and heritage plants for the eventual crash, and (on the gripping hand) allowing the non-human inhabitants of the area a safe place, water, and food.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for all your advice about growing herbs indoors. I’ve successfully done that elsewhere, but our lighting here is odd and makes things difficult. We’ve tried repeatedly. Though we do have a fair amount of things going right now, herbs remain something of a challenge.

    Like

  5. I loved reading this! Food and the means of its production are intimately linked with why I have lost a great deal of cognitive function. The scene: rural Iowa. Where seed corn to make the silage to feed the cows who get sick (and need antibiotics) from the GMO corn (sold by Monsanto and other Agri Monsters who ensure you cannot use the seed from the previous season to plant the next the next season) which is sprayed by all manner of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides and laced with anhydrous ammonia to make up for the depleted nitrogen in the raped soil. In utero I got a hefty dose of all those poisons and continued throughout my childhood and adolescence to marinate in the toxins permeating the land, air, water.

    Last time I found myself there, quite accidentally, a former classmate of mine who raises cattle told me that if they get to be a year old before they’re slaughtered, it’s too old. And though there is a great deal of fallow land that could be used for grazing, the farmers there won’t here of it. Cuts into their bottom line. And they’re the new barons of the land there, farmers, and they don’t seem to understand why there are cancer clusters — and I’m talking rare kinds of cancers that the University Hospitals use to recruit sick human guinea pigs to “study” and “cure.”

    So a few years ago, when I got the means to eat again because of EBT benefits, I started reading the labels of what I was buying, as I once did, and the bread that should have four to five to six ingredients (four because I like my bread salted) had lists of chemicals I was hard pressed to pronounce. And it was expensive. And listed as artisan. And it pissed me off so greatly that I set out to learn to bake my own damned “artisan” bread, realizing that it is, as you’ve stated, closer to the bread my Italian and Irish and Scottish ancestors ate than anything I can buy at a store.

    Because I’m sick and poor, I have to claim my authority to learn to heal myself. The joy that comes from baking the myriad regional breads of Italy, from immersing myself in “artisan” Italian bread, links me to my ancestors and helps me reclaim the inherent power of food to heal and nourish and restore and comfort and connect.

    I have time on my hands because I’m currently disabled. Not officially, mind you, because I never had health care to document the health problems I was having so I can’t get that status. But I invest myself in learning about baking bread, partly because sometimes I feel my ancestors whispering, “Throw it down. Again. It’s a little dry, don’t you think?” Stuff like that. And in those moments, I am whole.

    So I’m a-gonna make myself this recipe you’ve shared (I’d been wanting to ask for it because you mentioned this garlic bread in a bio but I don’t ask people for their private recipes because, well, it seems rude to ask someone their culinary (Magic!) secrets).

    I’m gonna make it once I’ve baked some more ancestor bread with the crucial sourdough starter (biga! they calls it) and I’m gonna experience this garlic bread recipe. My mouth waters just anticipating. (Softening the butter is what I’ve never done … melted it instead … bad … and your butter proportions as well as the amount of garlic have me almost swooning in anticipation. The herbs we think of as being Italian grow like weeds where my great-grandma was born. (I love your anecdote about the rosemary, by the way.)

    And thanks for your ideas for how to grow herbs even when you don’t have access to land where you could grow it yourself. They won’t grow indoors for me. So I’m gonna have to scout some different locations.

    If you want to write more about how our relationships to food have been distorted or severed by Capitalism, I would eat that shit up.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. coming a little late to the post, but oh my Gods, Rhyd, you’re so speaking my language here! I used to regularly bake with sourdough before discovering my gluten issue, and just maintaining the starter is its own act of magic and animism for me. What you’ve said is what led to my own discovery of the traditional foods movement and I still feel some disappointment that the community is heavily conservative, libertarian, and monotheist. (although being a part has led me to people I like but can also disagree with strongly and I need some of that in my life.) Plus the line about single life has been my reality for over two years, and coupled with chronic health problems, I despise it.

    Posts like this make me so happy. Thank you.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: