Young and Hungry

Baguette Champ Reflects on His Victory

Y&H should have posted this earlier, but Samuel Fromartz, the amateur baker who stole the show at our debut baguette competition, wrote a nice rumination the other day about his victory.

How good was the essay? The New York Times' Mark Bittman blogged it, without providing a bit of context. By which I mean, he didn't link to our original story about the baguette competition!

Whatever. We're not bitter.

In the essay, Fromartz explains the motivation behind his obsession to make homemade artisanal bread:

On the one hand, this result was unexpected. I mean, I'm a writer by profession. I've always been a writer, well, almost always. But I love to cook too, and at times have become passionate about it. I'm also drawn to crafts, and to crafts people; whether the craft is putting words together or making a whole grain sourdough loaf.

But in distinction to writing, baking has been a private endeavor. It was just something I did to break the tension, when my arms tensed up from typing too much, or when I just wanted to leave the computer screen and do something with my hands — to make something tactile.

This grew into a regular practice. Starting many years ago, I stopped buying bread, because I made enough. A few loaves a week, we'd eat one and another would go into the freezer. I became adept at sourdough, using the natural yeast present everywhere. It was like conjuring something out of thin air.

My motivation was simple. I just wanted good fresh bread. Who can argue with that? It wasn't a business. There was no market to worry about, no bosses or rent, nothing. Just baking pure and simple without any distraction because I had absolutely no larger intention. It was pure craft.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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