Sourdough. I remember the first time I laid eyes on it. It manifested itself as enormous round golden pillows, dusted in flour in the display window of a craft bakery, when it opened up across the road from our terrace home.
These days, Sourdough is all the rage, and has knocked other loaves off their lofty perch: multigrain with its seeds of wheat and barley; rye with a signature dark chocolate-like texture; baguettes with spiral crusts imitating a golden brown and white barber’s pole; flat white tongues of Turkish; singed platters of Indian Naan; not to mention, good old fashioned brown bread.
The precursor to these late arrivals in Sydney was what I knew as a child. Large rectangular loaves of white bread. Sliced bread wasn’t an option back then. My grandmother used to cut up a loaf with the scalloped blade of a large breadknife and give us the crusts as a treat.
What really fascinated my sister and me was how it materialised in my grandmother’s home through a servery, a small cupboard with two doors, one inside the house in the kitchen, the other opening onto the side passage. The baker would come up the side path, open the servery door and place the loaf of bread inside. The milkman too, used the servery to deliver milk in foil-capped recyclable glass bottles.
My sister and I would run into my grandmother’s kitchen in the morning after a sleepover and open the servery door to find that the milk and bread had magically appeared overnight. If you’d told my grandmother back in 1967 that in the 2020s we would have food delivered to our door by Uber Eats, she wouldn’t have been in the least surprised.
Copyright to Robert Carrick. Sourdough bread hand crafted by Valentina and photographed by Rossella Venturi. This SSOA blog is made possible through assistance from the City of Sydney.
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