Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Old Bread Is Good Bread

"In Italy, it is said that for every crumb of bread you waste, you will spend a year in Purgatory collecting crumbs with your eyelashes. It is no wonder the Italians have produced such a catalog of toppings for crostini and bruschetta."
- Kelly Myers on Culinate

Stale bread isn't dead, it's just waiting for you to put it to good use, at least that's what Kelly Myers, chef de cuisine at Nostrana, said in an excellent piece in the new food site Culinate. She talks about heading into work and finding piles of leftover bread from a busy weekend. Inspired, she made up a white bean, dried bread and escarole soup that sounds absolutely intoxicating. (The article includes two other recipes, a bread pudding and an Italian zuppa bastarda.)

She says the best bread to use is one that is crusty, chewy and has a dense texture, such as ciabatta or pugliese. While I like to use leftover bread for toasting, Kelly talks about crostini, bread crumbs and strata. Her philosophical musing on the subject ends reflectively: "A certain amount of waste is inevitable. But when we dismiss food that’s day-old or boring in its abundance, we lose more than time and money. In failing to find uses for all the food in our possession — whether it’s stale loaves, very ripe fruit, or too much kale — we miss the chance to force ourselves to cook in a new way. With luck, when we transform a familiar ingredient into a new recipe or a new dish, our minds open once again to what’s possible in the kitchen, and we feel the freshness of surprise."

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