Four-dimensional loaves are not the only bread

As predicted, my son considers the making of bread to be pointless. He did it anyway.


It is actually pretty good. This is a satisfying result.

As we made it, I couldn’t resist explaining some of the chemistry of bread. Why you add the yeast, what it does, why you have to knead it, why you need “strong” flour and all the rest. The Heston Blumenthal in me.

Tomorrow we will be tackling mashed potato. I am particular about mashed potato. “Normal” potato mashers ruin it. The vigorous pumping smashes the cell walls of the potatoes, releasing their innards and turning it into the gloop of sticky mashed potato that you could build walls out of. If you want light, smooth mashed potato you need a more gentle method and the best option is a potato ricer. Almost guaranteed good results. One Christmas I bought a friend a potato ricer. Much later, whilst I was visiting them, his wife explained to me that at some point some idiot had bought them this pointless contraption that had never been used because it was unnecessarily cumbersome. *sigh*

The type of potato you use has an effect too. Not the super-floury ones, please, either a solid mid-range potato like a Maris Piper or if you are feeling brave and don’t mind the extra effort, even something toward the waxy yellow end of the spectrum. Not all potatoes are the same and it’s a question of finding the right tool for the job (although, to be fair, if you only ever buy one breed of potato, Maris Piper covers a multitude of sins). Nevertheless, that would get boring after a while.

Maris Pipers are not the only potato

It is also true that oranges are not the only fruit. Which makes me think of Jeanette Winterson, who famously experimented with tangential spiralling narratives rather than linear ones. Perhaps my least read blog post ever was Spirals, Truth, Reconciliation , probably because it made no bleeding sense at all.

It considered the idea that blog posts are discrete intersections of a linear narrative with the spiral of a blogger’s truth (or thereabouts), which isn’t a million miles away from Jeanette’s experiments. We do not think in straight lines, so why should we write in them?

When getting to know someone, that too is a discreet circling. A succession of part-conversations on a periphery to which you will return, each time perhaps cutting a little deeper into the swirling truth. The core of that vortex may never be referred to at all, but perhaps the words and images employed are shadows of it.

No-one has ever constructed a four-dimensional model as we could not perceive it. However, just as normal objects cast two-dimensional shadows, four-dimensional objects have shadows that are three-dimensional, and people have certainly made models of those so we can squint and stretch our minds to an imagining of what the imperceptible might “look” like.

My friend (of the potato-ricer-hating wife) would argue that it is a lost cause, this attempt to grasp another’s truth, that it remains only in a dimension we can never reach or touch. I think he is wrong. No…I hope he is wrong.

But, for now, there is a loaf. And it smells rather good.



8 thoughts on “Four-dimensional loaves are not the only bread

  1. I didn’t appreciate that Jeanette Winterson was experimenting with tangential spiralling narratives but did enjoy “Oranges” and also its non-fiction parallel (possibly?) “Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?”. On the bread front – I used to enjoy making something called Poppy Seed Plait in my young and foolish days. Maybe your son would enjoy the satisfyingly gloopy plaiting and abandoned little-black-seed-sprinkling involved?

    Liked by 1 person

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