The tyranny of the Bread aisle

From Nelson’s Weblog comes two observations that are right on the money.

Consumers think sourdough is shorthand for quality. It’s not. In fact, sourdough is seldom the appropriate bread for a meal. It makes lousy sandwiches, lousy breakfast, it clashes with cheese.


The flipside of sourdough is hideous American industrial bread made out of sugar. Sugar has no place in bread. OK, maybe a pinch to proof the yeast.

Grocery store bread, which I define as anything sold in a translucent plastic bag, is a blight upon all things noble and pure. Addressing Nelson’s second point first, I want to ask the following:

Has anyone else run into difficulty finding hamburger or hot dog buns that are HFCS-free, let alone sugar free? It is nigh impossible. Luckily there are some artisinal bakeries here in Seattle that have filled that void, but we had to look to find them. It’s easier finding squid ink than it is Sugar-free Hamburger buns.

To the first point, it seems as if people have forgotten that the types of bread was once as diverse as the types of cheese or (not so coincidentally) the types of beer. When one considers the different types of bread multiplied by the different types of yeast multiplied by the different types of baking techniques, it’s easy to figure out that there are/were hundreds if not thousands types of bread out in the world.

Alas, if you go to the bread aisle in the grocery store, it’s what? Sugary white, fake wheat, maybe a multi-grain of some sort, and sourdough. Most of them aren’t worth the time it takes to look at them.

My hope is that bread becomes the next artisinal revolution in the food world. We would be better served by it, that’s for sure.

CLARRIFICATION: This is my fault, as I did not explicitly state so in the post, but I do believe there is good sourdough out there. But it has its time and place. It is not the end all of bread, which I believe was Nelson’s point.

Let’s put it this way – I would not serve sourdough bread with summer season Italian dishes. To me, this just doesn’t match.

In my defense however, I did say that my post applies to the plastic-wrapped, mass produced breads.

h/t to Kottke