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Bread Cred May 12, 2009

Posted by KG in Food, Mumbai.
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There’s a lot to praise about Indian bread.  Delicious, buttery naan that burns your fingertips, just a little;  earthy chapattis used to scoop simple curry; parathas stuffed with fenugreek, or paneer, or nothing at all, served with black daal.  Starch-lovers have good reason to pig out on Indian breads alone.

But bread in India is a wholly different thing.  If you’re sick of chapattis, or just want a sandwich, India makes life difficult.  Directly put: western-style bread in India is generally crap.  There are a handful of boutique-y bakeries around Bombay that claim to sell crusty bread, but whatever is on the shelves is at best a pale, squishy, flavorless imposter.  We use  bread we pick up from the local “gourmet” bread shop for basic sandwiches, but really this stuff would be best torn up and fed to the pigeons. 

We’ve concluded that there’s one exception to this: the Bombay Baking Company, in the JW Marriott.   On Sunday night, I cracked into a fresh loaf of rye I bought there to make a turkey and cheddar sandwich, with dijon mustard.  I think my words after the first bite were “oh my god” — the bread was that good.

I feel slightly pathetic, or that at the very least I’m losing the little bit of Bombay Street Cred I had.  Bread from a bakery in a five-star hotel! Of course  it’s good, and expensive, and an elitist indulgence.  But when you’ve been away from home (and the greater Western world) for almost a year, the appeal of decent, crusty bread is self-evident. 

Don’t get me started on bagels.

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Comments»

1. Driftingfocus - May 12, 2009

Korea is the same way with bread. Their rice-based pastries are excellent, but if you want some nice whole wheat bread…you’re outta luck. Periodically you can get an overly-soft rye bread in the large cities like Seoul and Busan, but down here in the sticks where I live, I get stuck with “milk bread”, which is basically a squishy, chewy, overly-sweet white bread. It’s pretty terrible. Good bread is certainly one of the things I have missed.


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