Find of the Week

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Flaxseed Omega-3 bread – yes, you read it right

I’m a simple woman. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Love. Friendship. Family. A plane ticket to anywhere. Omega-3-saturated flaxseed bread.

You can imagine, then, why I stood stock-still and stared for a solid 48 seconds when I spied a fat little packet of Bimbo bread this afternoon in my local Olé supermarket. I had to blink and rub my eyes. 390 grams of sliced, grainy, pouncey flaxseed omega 3-infused bread. And not only that, this packet ain’t no 250g. This is 390. It’s almost a full loaf.

I rubbed my eyes again, then reached out slowly, waiting for it to dissolve into a mirage as my hand approached. Instead, my fingers just knocked into the soft plastic. A short intake of breath. Then a gathering-up and a romantic embrace against my chest. How can a short stack of bread create such an emotional-reaction?

I scanned the shelf quickly for more, but this was the last one fronting a long line of already-snaffled bread. No surprise there, considering the expats that frequent this Olé.

“You’re coming home with me,” I whispered to my fat little packet, affectionately, digging my thumbs in to ascertain freshness (it was good). “And I am going to eat you and eat you and eat you! And I am going to slather you with avocado and brie and the kids will crunch you as toast, spread with peanut butter. Oh, you will love sliding down our gullets, my little friend.”

The bread looked back at me nervously.

Isn’t life, despite its soaring challenges and thrill-of-the-chase experiences, all about familiarity? Isn’t it what we grow to love and rely on that becomes our basis for comfort?

In Australia, as in most countries in the West, bread is eaten like rice is eaten in China, ie: for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And in Australia, like most countries in the West, the range of bread available is only rivaled by the innumerable species of fern. I can walk down a supermarket aisle and never reach the end of the selection on offer. Shoppers need a wheat consultant or a degree in yeast propagation to even begin to understand the logistics of selecting from all this bread.

I do have my favourites. Bergen Soy and Linseed is my thing. It’s the crème caramel of breads, but without the fat and syrupy sugar on top. It makes your eyes roll into their sockets when you bite into it. It’s freshness bounce is supernatural and it toasts like a dream – cracking crunchy on the outside and a spongy guts. And all that healthful, grainy goodness makes the colon shine, so you are happy both inside and out.

When we eventually return to Australia, I will head straight for a supermarket, rend my Bergen friend from its shelf and stuff my face into the packet. I may or may not bite a hole in that packet before reaching the cash register.

But back to my Beijing friend, Omega-3 flaxseed. It’s sitting here next to me as I type, like an old friend. Or a lamb awaiting slaughter. You may have seen this bread in Beijing before, but I haven’t. My body is screaming for this stuff, as are my kids’ taste-buds.

When we first went to a Chinese bread shop, we became disoriented by the loaves of spice-infused, sugar-pumped purple. Since then, I’ve had an irrational fear that my kids will only be able to fancy sweet white bread – the sporn of the devil. You might as well eat bowel-stipping-gluten-infused foam sprinkled with 18 teaspoons of sugar. I hate that stuff – unless it’s a kids party and it’s slathered in butter and rainbow sprinkles, when it takes on the nutritional equivalent of an iced donut – but of course, we all need an iced donut occasionally and I’m not a total party pooper.

Like its evil twin, softdrink, my kids aren’t allowed to ingest devil-sporn white bread. Only at birthday parties or when they’re 22 and sipping wine with un(e) petit(e) ami(e) on the Seine, tearing a soft white baguette apart with their teeth. But then, when you’re in Paris, anything goes. Even white bread.

I digress.

Suffice to say, I am off to bed tonight, steeped in anticipation for a slice of toast in the morning. Will this take the edge off my patiently-awaited bread-wolfing spree I plan on partaking in, the moment we land on Australian soil? We shall see. I’m a little nervous about tasting this “Chinese” version of luscious Western bread. My husband thinks it could be counterfeit.

Bring on breakfast.

First published on the City Weekend Beijing website.

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