We Brits never really learned to value bread.‘We’ didn’t..? I certainly did.
Had a major “baker” stopped selling bread in France, there might have been a riot. But then in France, bread has always been highly political …The French can make fashion political.
In Germany there might have been indignation. Walk around its cities, be it Bochum or Berlin, and the national bakery chains fill their windows with sumptuous displays of glossy, golden loaves that are to a British supermarket loaf what a BMW is to a Rover.Ah, I see a pattern: “Oh, look at the continentals, so progressive, so superior to us awful Brits!”
The progressive press seems to have no trouble finding people who loathe Britain, yet unaccountably never choose to live in the countries they always hold up as superior.
Despite war, pestilence and the advent of reality TV, good bread remains central to the cuisine of those northern European nations that can actually boast a cuisine. That it isn’t in Britain says a lot about the fate of our food culture.Yup, here we go – the idea that if we were only more like the revered continentals (who never indulge in Le Big Mac or ein Slurpee) we’d be so much better. We’d no longer be British, but then, isn’t that the point?
But wait! Haven’t we seen a revival of bakery recently? Well, it seems we have, but it’s the wrong people doing it:
Of course, in the last decade or so there has been a revival of artisan baking. When I made a series for BBC Radio 4, I met a slew of amazing people for whom baking was less of a job and more a calling. And yet little has changed in wider attitudes. Many people think nothing of parting with four quid for a pint or three for a coffee, but spending a similar sum on a loaf of properly crafted bread strikes them as outrageous profligacy, the preserve of hipsters and smug middle-class foodies.And well they might! They don’t, after all, have the salary of a ‘Guardian’ writer, do they?
And there’s not that much wrong with plain old white bread anyway, is there? Isn’t it better than no bread at all?
Greggs is the state of the nation’s stomach. And it’s costing the NHS in excess of £20bn a year to fix the consequences of our collective diet; obesity, heart disease, diabetes. No major party had the Greggsnuts during the election campaign to talk about taking on a food industry that we are in effect subsidising through our spending on the NHS. But don’t blame Greggs. If we wanted better food and a healthier society we’d demand it.*yawn* The usual Nanny State male generative organs we’ve come to expect.
Luckily, we have a new Tory government who won’t put up with this sort of nons…