So we need to start with the starter. But the starter is not a beginning nor an end in itself. The sourdough starter is a form of life that doesn't belong to its matter, because it passes from one body - a mix of flour and water, to another. It's a weird form of existence that needs time, and care, to survive. And it makes bread exist.
I received my starter from a friend together with a set of rules. she passed the knowledge on to me that was passed on to her. it is oral and manual tradition, that has not much changed for the last few thousand years, and the act of passing it on feels like a small part in a huge but intimate exchange between neighbours, colleagues, friends, mothers, lovers.
One spoon of water and one spoon of flour. Keep it at 35º, wait 24 hours, feed it with one spoon of water and one spoon of flour. Keep it at 35º, wait 24 hours.
Mix flour and water and wait. Give it temperature. Give it time. Give it care. Feed it until it is ready. But when do we know that something is ready?
The dough might collapse when we wait too long. The hours of labour have exhausted the growing body – but that is okay. that will happen. we can softly massage it’s stress away and when it feels better, we can move on, stronger than before.
It is likely that we will fail the first time. Looking at the signals of the material, there will be a moment when we will be able to read. Once we recognize each other, we will probably start to know when to give it more or less.
Hope we finally got to where we were going.
where aren’t we going?
One night we will see it. Then it needs to be fed with two times more flour than water and wait with it at 35º until the morning. it sees us, too. Attentive as it is, it will notice of you treat it in a rush, between things, of if you focus your energy on it’s growing body. It will reward you accordingly.
Giving our starter its weight in flour and half its weight in water and look back after two hours will make grow to its double. This is only the beginning. A never ending beginning.
Choose a flour, choose labour, infrastructure, processing methods, choose a flour and mix it with water, choose labour, infrastructure, processing methods, until it has the desired consistency. Remember there is no universal consistency as there are not universal conditions for existence. We need to learn from someone close to us.
Add some salt, not too much.
Action is an ingredient.
Twist and fold, and wait and twist and fold, and wait and twist and fold.
There are more things to add, but we need to find the moment and the amount.
hungrily, my little grown body swallows the salt, the seeds, the honey, the weeds. I feed you, and later, you will feed me back.
and biting each other
How much can it contain until it turns to something different?
Things that we will not see happening will happen in a microscopical level and we will have to trust that until it is ready to be apparent. We need to trust the process.
How is a shape chosen? How does it come to exist? Do shapes come from other shapes? Are they able to hold intentions?
A braid, a nest, a network, branches coming together, bonding, blending, binding, self sustaining, underlying structure, growing ecosystem, membering, dismembering, giving to others, feeding each other, digesting, being part of something else, being part of each other.
we now have a hot, swollen body in front of us, heavenly smelling and filling the room with a sense of home, and we have another body, small, weakend, but steadily pulsing.
Soon it will start again, but for now, we rest, carefully wrapped in a towel.