Machines are so pervasive these days, it’s hard to find anything anymore that has human hands involved in the creation process. Hell, machines are making machines to make other machines. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – theoretically it leaves us free to use our brains more. Okay, that was just a joke. We’re not becoming any more creative, just lazier.
There is one place, though, where I draw the line against the encroachment of technology and machine-made goods – the kitchen. And, most especially do I object to the baking of my bread being automated. When I was a kid, I used to love watch my grandmother standing at the table, her arms flour-stained to the elbow, rolling dough so she could use a jelly jar to stamp out the huge buttermilk biscuits we had with our breakfast. Watching her line them up on a cookie sheet before putting them in the oven was, in my youthful mind, akin to watching Michelangelo daub his brushes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I’m not really engaging in hyperbole here, either, because she did some really inventive things with biscuits, like putting little chunks of cheese in the center of each biscuit, which would melt into the bread as it baked. Man, did that taste good.
Nowadays, though, biscuits come in a can. You tap it against the counter edge, peel back the paper wrapping, and pull each biscuit off a roll. You can still, I suppose, get creative if you wish – but something’s missing. Same goes for making rolls, croissants, corn pone, etc. When you take out the mixing of ingredients, rolling the dough, etc., you remove an essential part of what makes bread – well, bread.
Machines are never going away, and more and more things will be machine-made in the future. But, could we please, please, bring back handmade bread.
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