When I was a child my father would often threaten me that in jail all I would get is bread and water. Often the question would be “did you clean your room” and if I said yes when the room was not clean he would say “you know if you lie in court and they send you to jail all you will have to eat is bread and water”. Honestly, the bread part didn’t bother me so much. Then, as much as now, I loved bread, Wonder bread, toast, English muffins, garlic bread, and of course baguettes or “French” from Calandra’s bakery. Sure, at 7 years old I can live on that. The water part… well, I loved my soda, especially Coca-Cola or 7Up as a child, just as any kid would. Today, if airline food is any indication of a “meal” three times daily, I will be begging for bread and water instead.
So, here I am, grown, an adult, and knowing that a diet of bread is not all good, but something I really don’t care to do without, still presents problems. Not because there is a lot of carbohydrates in bread, but salt as well. A lot of salt, in fact, its got more salt than we are aware of. Still, I like some bread with lunch, not so much dinner. But its really hard to find good bread these days, even if you go to the bakery. Sure, many high end supermarkets will bake their own and call it “artisan” but, its really nothing close to it. And, if you go to a bakery, you will find it inconsistent. My favorite of all time and one of the #1 New Jersey brands is Calandra’s. Unless you are buying it from its original location in Newark, you are not getting a superior product. In fact, I bought some just 3 miles from its Fairfield bakery and 1 mile from its Caldwell Bakery, and I don’t know which facility it came from, but it was possibly the worst loaf I ever had. It was semi-fat in some areas, and then skinny/hard even to cut in other areas. It was quite simply an inconsistent loaf of bread not worth its $3 since less than half of it was inedible after 1 day.
To be fair, I’ve brought this to their attention several times over the past several years. All my emails go ignored. Maybe they don’t read them, maybe they don’t care. Maybe they think I am crazy, or, and more probably, they are just to arrogant to care, and that is the general consensus. They got too big for their own good, and can care less what people in general have to say. However, when people start going to the smaller bakery in the same neighborhood, maybe they will pay more attention. I am not trying to defame a famous NJ brand, but I am trying to express that bakers need to understand that we give decades of loyalty to their brand based on consistency. For this reason I now look for other brands “imported” from New York, Brooklyn, even Queens. You would think that bread from these areas would not arrive fresh, but they do, its the same price, if not cheaper, or in some cases, perhaps even .50cents more, but they are good, and they are more consistent and they don’t go stale after 24 hours.
And, good bread should not go stale after a few days. It might become dryer, but never to the point where its like breaking your teeth to penetrate the crust only to get to the center which is all dry crumbs. In Italy, and the ancestors that brought this bread tradition here, the outer part was hard, and crusty, but protected the inside as firm, but never stale bread, even after several days. In fact, if you wanted bread crumbs or “day old bread”, you would have to wait a few days and even toast it in the oven.
As for the water, if I cannot have wine, I much prefer a nice cool or cold glass of spring water from anywhere. Sparkling or not, whether its the local Deer Park, Poland Spring or even the Italian or French sparkling waters. Bread and water sound good, as long as its not stale bakery bread and chlorinated tap water. In that case, Wonder bread would even be better to chew, taste better, and any form of water as long as it was not city tap, would be fine, not great, but I don’t see myself in prison anytime soon, so why am I subjected to it as a free citizen who has the money to pay for it and given something I would dread in jail?
Something to think about.