I need a remedy for the aftereffects of unbridled eating (and a little drinking). A short vacation landed me in the middle of a multi-day, all-bar-food binge, and I’m way too old to metabolize unlimited amounts of grease, salt, and preservatives, along with beer. Sure, once upon a time, it would have been a mere blip to my metabolism, but those days are l-o-o-n-g gone.
So I started a “lighter, fresher” phase today. (Who knows how long it will last.) Lunch consisted of oil packed tuna (well-drained), tossed with cannelini beans, chopped fresh sage & oregano, black pepper, and red wine vinegar. To accompany the tuna and bean salad, I topped toasted peasant bread with chopped tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar. Satisfying, low fat, low salt, and preservative free: maybe my liver and gall bladder will forgive me for my recent excesses after a few days of better eating.
The bread, a “neo-Tuscan boule”, came from Wal-Mart. Such a purchase means only one thing: it’s too damn hot to bake in my kitchen. Knowing that the thermometer would hit 90 degrees today, I wanted to avoid turning on the oven, so searched the WallyWorld racks for a decent loaf. Imagine my surprise to find not just one, but a whole range that met my standards! It turns out that Wal-Mart sells European-style loaves under its’ “Marketside” label. (The packaging calls the obviously mass-produced loaves “artisan”, which is patently ridiculous, but this post is about bread, not the corruption of the term artisan.)
What am I looking for in a loaf of bread? As short an ingredient list as possible, which means no dough conditioners or baking powder, little or no added sugar, and a minimum of fat. The Marketside neo-Tuscan boule has just five ingredients–wheat flour, water, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and yeast. (The inclusion of sea salt seems to inspire the neo-Tuscan terminology, since traditional Tuscan bread is saltless.) I want a sturdy crust and chewy, holey crumb–and the Wal-Mart loaf delivered, after some intervention. Like most par-baked breads sold in stores, the loaf was underbaked for my taste. Toasting slices of loaf quickly corrected the too-blonde crust.
So if your kitchen, like mine, is too hot to bake unless you wake before dawn, and you live in a burg sadly lacking in artisanal bakeries, keep an eye out for the Marketside breads at the world’s largest retail chain.