Anatomy for Shoppers


Today we went shopping for a few things in town. We visited the new Waitrose, a huge superstore-type supermarket in all its pristine glory. The following conversation took place on the way home:

OH: ‘Trouble with Waitrose is that they don’t make a granary loaf.1

Me: ‘Are you sure? Have you asked them at the bakery? They may call it something else .. ‘

OH: ‘No, they don’t do one. They do artisan bread, though.’


OH: ‘The French bowel is good.’

Me (a tad startled by the change of subject): ‘The French bowel??’

OH: ‘Yes, you know, it’s sort of round and flat.’

Me: ‘What?’

OH: ‘It’s all soft and spongy when it’s fresh, but the next day it begins to go a little more solid and it really lasts well. You might like it.’

Me: ‘Uh … I might?’

OH: ‘Yes – I think it’s long fermentation. You know, it’s like a big crusty roll, sort of thing.’

BreadMorguefile copy

Me: ‘Oh, the French boule! Cos, you know, bowels are sort of round and … uh … long, not round and flat.’

OH: ‘I wouldn’t know.’

Me: ‘You don’t know what shape a bowel is?’

OH: ‘No, and I have no wish to know!’


OH: ‘Anyway, I thought you pronounced it ‘boolay‘.’

Me: ‘No, only if there’s an accent on the end. Otherwise it’s ‘bool‘.’


OH: ‘I knew really, you know. I’m just making fun of the pronunciation.’


OH: ‘Their rustic pains are really good, too.’

Me: ‘That’s rustic ‘pan‘ with a kind of soft ‘n’, not … ‘

I caught sight of a suspicion of a smirk at the corner of his mouth.

Me: ‘Oh, never mind!’

And as usual, laughter ensued, which is good for all that ails you. Bowels or not3.

1 The thing about OH and I is that we have totally different tastes in bread. He likes horrible, squishy, doughy stuff made in the Chorleywood manner, and my digestion won’t cope with it and prefers long-fermentation bread made with a lot less yeast. I also can’t deal with malted flour, which makes me itchy. Granary loaves are full of malted flour so I don’t eat them. OH really likes them .. but not the sort which are like wholemeal bread with a few seeds stuck to the outside. Those aren’t ‘real’ granary bread.

2 What supermarkets call ‘long fermentation’ isn’t really very long at all. Anything over one hour is ‘long fermentation’ to them, but true long fermentation is somewhere around 12 hours and can be even longer. This improves digestibility, and raises the bread’s glycaemic index. All good, huh?

3 OK, I concede that in some specialised cases, laughter might not, in fact, be good for the bowels.

9 thoughts on “Anatomy for Shoppers

  1. Babs 23rd February 2015 / 10:10 pm

    Boule, bowel, it’s all the same to me 🙂 I don’t eat much bread, myself. Just the odd small, brown slice does me, when I do. I haven’t eaten bread since the days when a freshly baked loaf from a baker was wholesome bread and that was a long time ago.

    • Jay 23rd February 2015 / 10:33 pm

      Well, exactly, Babs. I gave up bread for a while, too, because the doughy, indigestible stuff they sell these days just doesn’t sit well with me. But then I discovered that you can find ‘proper’ bread if you look for it, and I get that. One of my favourite sources is Abel & Cole who do quite a bit of artisan bread, and some extra-long fermentation breads – proper sourdoughs, too.

      I still compare today’s breads with the sort my Mum used to send to go and buy from the village bakers. A ‘long tin’ was the usual request. We didn’t eat a huge amount of bread in those days and sometimes the end would go stale and hard, but hardly ever mouldy. These days, bread rarely goes hard but often goes mouldy. It’s as if it’s made of plastic!

  2. nick 24th February 2015 / 7:57 am

    I’ve never had a problem with bread, but Jenny sometimes feels a bit bloated after eating it. Maybe she needs some long-fermentation bread rather than our usual fare. We love Sainburys multi-seeded loaves but I’ve no idea what’s in them or how long they’ve been fermented! But how so many people can stomach all that tasteless white sliced bread I can’t fathom.

    • Jay 24th February 2015 / 8:20 am

      Tell Jenny to try it! 🙂

      It’s almost possible to tell just by the texture if a bread has been fermented properly or not. Today’s breads are mostly extremely light and soft, like a sponge: you squeeze gently, and they give a lot, then immediately spring back into shape. Proper bread is more solid, feels heavier, and when you squeeze it, feels as if it might crack if you’re not careful (which it probably will). There are degrees of long fermentation, so some loaves will be halfway between the two extremes. The only way to really know is to ask or to be told in the bread’s description. But don’t be fooled by terms like ‘artisan’ or ‘traditional recipe’ because they often don’t mean a thing.

  3. Valerie Daggatt 24th February 2015 / 10:42 am

    What a great post… I really like the conversation style.

    I don’t eat bread. Hang on, that’s not strictly true if I have soup when eating out I always have a home baked roll with it. It’s at home that I don’t eat bread on account of shop bread disagreeing with my digestive system. Before you ask, I couldn’t bake bread to save my life… smiles.

    • Jay 24th February 2015 / 5:00 pm

      That’s exactly why I search out long-fermentation bread, Valerie. So many people find that it doesn’t agree with them. I have just found a shop about ten miles from where I live that bakes all its bread in the old-fashioned way with fermentation periods of 12 hours or more. I was so pleased!

      I’m no good at bread, either. And bread machines … well, what they make is the dreaded quick-result Chorleywood bread. It needs more yeast, more additives, and less time. Can’t beat traditional methods!

  4. Shae 24th February 2015 / 1:21 pm

    Lol! I would not put anything in my mouth if it even came close to sounding like “bowel”! All the images that drags up! Gag!

  5. Rob Lenihan 24th February 2015 / 5:04 pm

    Well, no could ever accuse you two of being loafers,

    Ouch, sorry, couldn’t resist. I have to say I’m with OH on the whole bowel business. I don’t want to know what it looks like as long everything works properly and I can eat my boule free of any rustic pains.

    Any more bread puns and you’re toast!

    • Jay 24th February 2015 / 8:42 pm

      Hahaha! Very witty! OH says he’s going to use that line …

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