What can be more sensual than tearing a loaf of bread, dipping it into some olive oil and guiding it into the swollen lips of a woman you lust after? There has never been a more versatile ingredient in your pantry than bread. It has helped the primitive man sustain life as well as enriching the noble man’s life for centuries. Bread is widely perceived as just an accessory to most meals. But when was the last time someone you valued proclaimed, “Lets break truffles together”? You should put just as much thought into how and what kinds of breads you serve as any conductor would a horn section.I never throw bread away. Granted, I don’t let it turn into a furry blue Cha Cha Cha Chia Pet. But at the end of every meal, I will wrap and freeze any left over bread that hasn’t been drooled on by the guest that was brought by another guest. Left over bread is the staple of many Tuscan’s diet. Here in America, in the land where wasteful attitudes is an assumed birthright, we don’t hesitate to throw out the foundation of some of the world’s greatest dishes right along with our morality and good sense. Perhaps that attitude is cultivated by the fact that restaurants give you so much of it for “free”. If it is “free” and it is everywhere, then surely it must be OK to discard it with the bones of the Bistecca Florentina. The next time you buy a $4 glass of iced tea or an $8 Iceberg salad, sit and ponder just how “free” your bread has become.
Some wonderful uses for old bread are: Meatballs. No great meatball was ever made with packaged Italian breadcrumbs. You must take cubed day old bread and soak it in milk. Then squeeze out the milk and use that to bind the meatballs. Meatballs are actually made with mostly bread in Italy. But what do they know? Crumble bread into large coarse crumbs and fry in a skillet with some olive oil. You can use this to garnish risotto, beans, soups or anything that has a soft character. Contrasting textures are key in keeping the palate excited and your chances of love high. Crostini for cheese. I will take the left over loaves and cut them into crostini. Brush with olive oil and bake in the oven until lightly brown. Upon removal from the oven I may be inclined to rub the crostini with a raw garlic clove. That depends on how confident I’m feeling at the moment. I use tons of garlic, women love confidence. Pile them up next to the cheese board and let everyone have at it. Bread is for cheese, crackers are for church. Bread Pudding. What an utterly simple yet refined dessert that absolutely anyone with a touch of decent sense can create. It encompasses only eggs, milk, sugar and old bread. Just be sure to have the amaretto sauce too. Nothing highlights the end of an evening like a warm sweet kiss from the upper thigh of Italy.
Soup! Bread is an incredible thickener of soup. It could be as simple as some chicken broth, onion and roasted garlic in a blender with torn bread or even simpler with tomato, broth, herbs, torn bread and a fried egg. Don’t forget to shower each soup with some EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil drizzled from the bottle with your finger, a few shavings of parmesan and your intentions for the evening.
My personal governing laws on how to properly use bread are fairly simple:
Bread should never be sliced into individual servings. How are you ever supposed to make that eternal bond at the table with your guests if you literally do not “break bread” together? Using the same thought process that you administer to pair wine with food, you use to pair bread with food. Should the bread be sour to heighten the flavor of the fish? Should the bread be dark and rich for the roasted lamb? Just fall back on the flavors that you can recall in your mind and match the bread to help consummate the union.
Bread is like salt or even love in the significance of the table. It will not only enhance a meal beyond mundane, but it will bind the parts of a few well thought out ingredients as a whole, as well as binding the camaraderie of the family at the table. A meal served without bread is a definitive confirmation not only to one’s lack of regard for sustaining the life of the family but sustaining the life of his social worth.