Bread is one of those foods that demand both experience and respect for proper execution. You take a few basic ingredients—flour, salt, water, yeast—and you can make either Wonder Bread, or the most ethereal baguette on the planet. Accordingly, bakers generally regard their product with a mixture of emotions somewhere on the continuum between pride and awe.
Cook/food blogger Shuna Fish Lydon relates an amusing anecdote on San Francisco food blog Bay Area Bites that illustrates my point. It seems that Lydon, whilst working at an SF restaurant with a “serious” bread program, discovered that someone had forgotten to cover up the giant container of starter:
Starter grew out of the 50-gallon bucket. Crept down the sides. Grew across the floor like lava. Scaled the cold box walls. Spread its wings, traversing 90-degree angles, and defied gravity by covering the ceiling. Starter dripped on my head, plop. Starter was everywhere. Alive, happy, wet, sticky, growing. I looked down. Like the first man on the moon I saw my shoes disappearing into foreign goo. Starter naughtily walked out the door.
The starter was having a party.
Yep, that sounds about right.