a book about white bread

image“white bread:  a social history of the store-bought loaf” (2012) by aaron bobrow-strain is about white bread as it represents peoples’ dreams & aspirations from the late 1800s to the present 

i have never read a more tiresome & tiring book on what could have been a neat subject \ after reading informative & entertaining treatises about food & beverages <documented under “books” in this blog> this is utterly disappointing & a book one can put down / my main problem is the author’s treatment of the subject matter \ and this is to project white bread as a metaphor for people’s “dreams” – of purity, of abundance, of health & discipline, of strength & defense etc. \ really? people dream of purity?  of health & discipline? / i don’t think that was the most interesting angle to take \ i find it hard to connect dreams & aspirations to bread because to me bread particularly white bread represents commonness & status quo

bobrow-strain could have dug deeper into the collusion of government & industry in crafting food & public health policies \ the impact of marketing as well as innovations in complementary & substitute bread products would have been interesting too / the demand & market for artisan bread in recent times would have been informative & a great counterpoint to the rise & fall of industrial white bread \ more detail on what ingredients goes into industrial white bread & its enrichment would also have given more color to the story

about the most interesting revelation in the book was that softness became the gauge of desirability by consumers / they could not smell it <the way one can with homemade bread> so touching & pinching the bread through the packaging became a way to assess the product \ and so white bread was manufactured to be oh so soffftttt….oooh how did they make it so soffftttt? / btw – you can also round it up like a ball & make it bounce!

an interesting yinzer fact from the book pertains to the ward baking company which for some 50 or so years was headquartered in pittsburgh before returning to manhattan where it originated / ward baking company went on to produce wonder bread \ in the news earlier this week was the defacement by graffiti of an old advertising for ward’s bread on the wall of a house in polish hill, pictured above \ note: advertising says “100% pure” – remember “dream of purity” / according to bobrow-strain this also pertained to racial purity

a fun fact for me was mention of “cornell bread” which was created in the 1940s by cornell nutrition professor clive mccay as a low-cost nutritious & good tasting staple during the war-rationing days

i found out about this book from my favorite curmudgeon / are you finished with it yet?

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