Monday, 22 September 2014

Nestor Armando Gil @ Rufus Stone

I have been looking into the history of bread here while also starting and baking a round of loaves in the Rufus Stone kitchens.  As long ago as the 1300s in London a law was made that bakers could no longer sell their products out of their homes.  As a result, a street in the city, which is now called Bread Street, became the centre bread market.  In fact the street is a small comma in the complex geography of London, now occupying a stretch of no more than 500 meters southeast of St. Paul's Cathedral.  That central area of the city is becoming a focal point for me as I seek out a site for a performance I will execute while here.

A newer centre of commerce at the street level is the area around Brick Lane on a Sunday, where the so-called (UP)Market spreads for blocks and blocks along the Lane and out into the side streets that make up its wings.  A festival of aromas from the mad variety of food being offered, a man selling coffee out of a Black Cab that he has converted into what is essentially a giant coffee machine, and a flea-market feeling as vintage clothes, used electronics, and an ocean of knick-knacks are set out on table tops as far as one can see.  The throngs of people there yesterday--quite near the historic Bread Street--gives one a sense that for as long as there has been a 'here' here people have engaged in the exchange of goods and services at the most human level, with no mediation from telephones, internets, or any other modernities without which we simply cannot imagine living anymore.  All of this falls out the east and south of the cathedral, revealing it as the anchor of city life for as long as there has been city life in London.  Of course today the life of this city is anchored in many points, with burroughs having each nurtured its own fame and legend among various subcultures.  Still, the area around the cathedral remains the centre of London, and the energy that breathes in and out of that building itself is palpable.  It is making sense to me as an anchor point for the work I will do.

The bread I baked has been well received, and the experience of baking here is like other experiences in London.  Similar to yet unsimilar to my previous experiences elsewhere.  The flour feels different, the dough perhaps more elastic; I had never before used a convection oven.  My small worries that these differences would lead to a disappointed baker were for naught.  If you want a great loaf of bread, seek out a great bakery and frequent it.  But if a decent loaf of home baked is your aim, reach out and I would be glad to share.

Also: taking a huge loop around the city on a double decker is advisable when the feet are crying out of a long day's walk.  Things move by a bit fast for the intimacy walking provides, but seeing how the city fluidly transitions between worlds is facilitated by the ease of covering distances.  I saw a mummy at the British Museum, a misnamed institution if ever there were one.  Afterward, i wondered (in jest)  if the Library of Britain was actually a storehouse for books from every other part of the world, all taken from their places of origin and shelved here for the British citizenry.

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