Nostalgia is a Freshly-Baked Loaf

The queue’s gone down outside Vanora’s now. You could pop in for a loaf.

A couple of months ago, a new baker’s opened in Ripon.  Goodness, it was welcome.  A baker’s shop as a baker’s shop ought to be.

Vanora and Andrew get up in the small hours, when all the world’s abed, to fashion and bake their loaves.  The great pails of dough will already by then have been slowly proving and rising over a period of hours.  This is sourdough, fermented from  the natural yeasts present in the air we breathe, rather than using the commercially-available yeast usual in British breadmaking.

And oh – the bread it produces!  A wonderfully chewy crust, and a loaf with a slightly sour, characterful taste.  Riponians have taken this extra-special bread to their hearts, and ahead of opening time (only Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at present) an eager queue forms outside the door.

How this reminds me of our years in France.  The first job of our day was to queue outside the baker’s for our morning bread, croissants or pains au chocolat.  It was an unhurried task.  We’d all stand cheerfully in line, catching up with neighbourhood gossip, swapping recipes: generally having a sociable time.  And so it is outside Vanora’s.  We meet old friends, make new ones, and once inside, are greeted by name by Vanora and Andrew as we take the time to chat to them too.  This, we all agree, is shopping as it ought to be.  Oh, and on Saturdays, Vanora makes croissants too.  Don’t tell anyone in France, but …. these are the best croissants we’ve ever tasted. You could stock up on brownies, focaccia, sausage rolls and pork pies too.  These last two aren’t our thing, but I’m told they’re far and way the best in town. (Please note:  I am not being paid by V&A for this shameless piece of advertising.)

Vanora serves a customer….
… perhaps with one of these loaves.

This isn’t the only reason for my feelings of nostalgia though. Brought up in London as an Anglo-Polish girl, east-European-style sourdough loaves were as much a part of my life as baps, cottage loaves and wholemeal tins.  Good memories.

This is an entry for Lens-Artists Challenge #75 – Nostalgic, despite the fact that I was limited to using my non-smart-smartphone to take my snapshots.

 

It takes a village to raise a loaf

A poster like this is irresistible:

A spot of history, a spot of lunch, a new village to explore …. had to be done.

Orliac-de-Bar is only a few miles from here.  Like so many others in the area, it has a little building, the village oven, built once upon a time to bake the loaves of those villagers who had no oven of their own.  These days, when everybody uses the boulangerie or a bread-making machine, they’re generally dusted down and used only on high days and holidays

We arrived as the oven was getting going.  As visitors from afar, the organisers seized on us, anxious to show off their little bit of village history.  A couple of men  thrust bundle after bundle of brushwood into the glowing maw of the oven.  When the oven was judged to be hot enough, the woody embers were swept out, and the oven allowed to cool – just a little.

Our new friends popped an ear of wheat into a wooden clasp and introduce it into the heat.  It singed.  Nope.  The oven was still too hot.  The wheat should be burnished gold, not burnt.  Try again soon…..

 

Eventually the oven was pronounced to be not too hot, not too cold, but just right.  A small team of villagers  jammed pizzas (that well known French country delicacy?) and apple tarts  into the oven to be baked.

An oven filled with good things.

Twenty minutes later we were sitting down at long refectory tables arranged in the village square, doing what the French do best: sharing food, wine and conversation.  No photos.  I was too busy enjoying myself, and never gave it a thought.

Pizz and apple tart.

The village also had an exhibition of aspects of its history.  Here are some photos of a not-so-long-departed way of life.  I think they need no explanation.

 

And here are our new-found friends, waving us off after a day well spent.

Goodbye, Orliac-de-Bar!

Back at home, we had a fine solid Orliac-baked loaf to accompany our cheese and salad.

Click on any photo to view full size, and see the captions.