We had everything – an audience, ingredients in small bowls, different phases of dough already prepared to speed along the training process, and most importantly – a secret, controversial, and shocking ingredient to reveal!
In attendance were a number of our drivers and guards, and most importantly, the local bread maker. Our objectives were clear – to learn to make nutritious brown (beast) bread, with the greater goal to eventually change the bread eating and buying habits of the population. The baker, being business minded, also has the motivation of increased sales if the revolution takes hold.
Throughout the week I had contemplated how to reveal the secret ingredient with minimal fanfare. A nonchalant approach seemed the most appropriate. Prior to the training I had written out the recipe, changing the word ‘bran’ to ‘brown’. The recipe was presented to the group for approval, no one seemed to take notice of the odd ingredient listed. Immediate consensus was had. I presented the flour. Everyone nodded. It was thrown into the bowl. Yeast. More nods. It too was added to the bowl. Salt, not meant to be the surprise, required quite a bit of explaining. Water. No problem. Then as though it was another ever day ingredient, I pulled out the beast’s bran. I might as well have dropped my pants. Silence fell. A look of absolute horror crossed the face of the baker. His dreams of increased sales immediately vanished. Nonchalant clearly did not work.
I quickly explained that in Canada it is the people, and not the beasts, that eat the bran – with no apparent side effects (that I was willing to mention). The baker shook his head and exclaimed, ‘This will never work. The people will not eat it like that.’ He seemed extremely disappointed, and then after some contemplation, decided the bran just required sieving. A traditional sieve instantly appeared, and the bran was finely sifted. I tried encouraging that some of the larger morsels being sieved out be considered – but apparently my Canadian opinion had lost all credibility. The baker, the guards and the drivers carefully examined the fine brown remains of the bran, and after some seemingly secret discussions in the local language, the baker declared his approval. The sifted bran was added to the dough. I strongly suspect that the secret discussion involved swearing secrecy to never share with the population the horrifying truth of what will be in the bread. Regardless, the revolution was back on track.
The cooking show, following this great climax, concluded quite smoothly. The dough was prepared. Proportions were debated. The baker seriously considered every step. He provided propositions, suggestions and bread making tips. In the end a deal was had: I will buy 4 loaves a day for the entire week, and share the excess with our national staff team. He, in turn, will start introducing brown loaves to the market. We will re-evaluate the situation at the end of the week.
I thanked the baker for having taken the time to do the training. He replied, ‘I never thought a baker could help fight against malnutrition. But now I can. Thank you.’
And the revolution continues.