“When the leg does not walk, the stomach does not eat”. (Mongo -Congolese-Proverb)
So, I performed the usual morning routine, by walking to one of the four bakeries around my house for fresh bread. There is one in the building next door, but it is so smokey and dirty. I was in there one day watching them mix hundreds of pounds of bread dough in a big cement vat, and the vat is never cleaned. It discouraged me from going there a little. But I know they are all the same.
What we don’t know does not mentally disturb us as much. I’m serious, there is real wisdom and truth behind the philosophy, “Don’t ask, because you probably don’t want to know.” It’s life here, and you learn to accept it for what it is, or exhaust yourself trying to duplicate the purity of the western food experience, or you go home. Sometimes it’s a combination of all three in balanced doses.
The real deal breaker for the bakery next door was when the baguettes became like air. Crust on the outside and nothing but air inside; uninteresting hollow shells. Some days the bread was fine, other days not so much. Now I walk a further hundred yards to another bakery where the bread has been amazing every time.
“With bread all sorrows are less” – (Sancho Panza speaking to Dapple, his ass in Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes)
This picture is the morning loot I scored at 6 am. Five foot long baguettes, four regular and one double, for a grand total of $1. There is nothing better than fresh baked bread, and the ease of procuring it is one of the things I love about West Africa.
“‘A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said, ‘is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides are very good indeed.’” (Lewis Caroll)
Today the bakery folks gave me a new years gift with my baguettes, since I’m a daily regular customer now. I was handed a nice heavy canvas sac with the Bakery initials on it. I can now use this eco-friendly canvas sac each day instead of the usual black plastic sachet they put my bread in. I asked how much the canvas sac was, and they said it was a gift. I thanked them for their kindness, and did not bother to point out they short-changed me 50 cfa in my change.
I’ll not be a dough-head over the dough, since I was given a gift. You have to love many things about Mali.
“The man who has bread to eat does not appreciate the severity of a famine.” (Yoruba Proverb)
Desmond Tutu….. “When people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Now is that political, or social?” He said, “I feed you.” Because the good news to a hungry person is bread.”