Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breaking Bread

I have a profession, and it's not baking. This is a good thing because most of my bread requires hours of sweating, cursing, praying, flour throwing etc. and although each loaf brings me and my family pleasure and sustenance, I'm not sure they are boulangerie quality just yet. I'll stick with the day job a bit longer.

The day job more often happens at night as it turns out. I am an opera singer. Usually when I tell people that, they look at me as if I just announced I am a visitor from another planet. Here's a quick tutorial if you're not really sure what exactly an opera singer does for a living:

All clear? Ok, good.

So the reason I am obsessed with bread is that I am by trade, a performing artist. Let me explain. I work for weeks and months and sometimes years to prepare to perform a role in an opera alongside other colleagues for an audience of usually several thousand people. It is challenging, exhilarating, often incredibly fulfilling work.

One of the interesting things about this process is that while I am performing, by necessity I am not able to watch the audience and notice whether they are enjoying the performance or not, and more than that, I can NEVER experience the performance myself. A painter or sculptor can admire or critique his work after he or she is finished, but I only know what my performance is like by the way it is described to me from those who who were in the audience. Strange right? It can really screw you up if you're not careful...

Enter Bread. In contrast to opera, a loaf of bread only takes at most a few days of planning and preparing, although very much like opera, one must study for an entire lifetime to become and expert and even then there is always more to learn.

After my dough has become bread and it has cooled like the experts say you're supposed to let it do (I have no idea if that's true or not, I can never wait that long to eat it), my "performance" is over. The best part, however, is yet to come. Not only to I get to put together the flour, yeast and salt, fold or knead it, shape it and bake it, bring it to life, I then get to enjoy the fruits of my labor directly. Better yet, I get to share this work with my friends and family and watch them get joy and be fed from my work.

This is a beautiful thing.

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