Editor’s note: Annie Lemon returns with an observation about restaurant bread service and of course, a new Lemon’s Law.
Seems these days, woman cannot live by bread alone. And, no, it’s not because I am shunning carbs.
It’s because so much of it makes me feel like an extra in Les Miserables.
I remember a time when bread was a pillowy promise of what would come next. A chance for the kitchen to tempt you with warm just-from-the-oven focaccia, cornbread, lavosh or brioche, often paired with a tasty spread or sweet, softened — and salted — butter.
I couldn’t keep my paws off the stuff and I would call dibs for a particularly luscious naan or fluffy biscuit. With fondness, I recall being ever so slightly full before the entrée, having indulged in one slice too many.
But all too often these days, I tuck into a bread basket only to withdraw a wizened, tasteless puck. Or I encounter the kind of cold, texture-less roll served at 30,000 feet on transatlantic flight. And you’ve seen where most of those Styrofoam-wrapped rolls end up.
In too many restaurants, bread is deposited on the table without acknowledgement, a doughy afterthought. Sometimes, bread doesn’t appear as a precursor to the meal, but is instead MIA throughout the meal, never to appear. A few times, I have been charged a buck or two for bread, an unsavory occurrence that I discovered only after the bill was presented.
On rare occasions, I have even bitten into day-old, stale bread. Spit or swallow?
Bread may be a humble food, but it can also be deeply satisfying, which is why it’s been dubbed the “staff of life” for 30,000 years. Leavened or not, I want to swoon over flour and water brought to delicious life by human hands. Poppy seeds are optional.
If I fall for your bread, it’s likely I’ll fall for everything else you serve me.
Where have you had good bread service lately?
Annie Lemon is a pseudonym for a newly transplanted, nationally published food writer who lived most recently in a large East Coast city with a diverse food scene. She’s not sour, just hungry.