Sunday, 4 September 2011


There are three of us in this marriage. 
This is how it started...

An epic outdoor play at The Globe (who knows what now – this was six years ago) had enriched us, I assume, culturally but rendered us cold, slightly grumpy and starving. We schlepped to Moro in Exmouth Market – no tables but, thank God, a couple of free stools to slump at the bar. What happened next is an epiphany ... not for me but for T; if only I’d foreseen the consequences and how our lives would change ...
Along with our drinks a basket of warm sourdough bread appeared fresh from the wood-fired oven, chewy, fragrant and with a crisp crust; the light of love kindled in T’s eyes - oh he wasn’t looking at me.
Over the following weeks, our smallish kitchen housed a hellishly stinking bubbling tureen of rotting grapes in a pool of slurry to create the sourdough starter – THE MOTHER.  This monster demanded to be fed; my husband was obsessed – he’d become Dr Frankenstein, Macbeth’s three witches, Steve Martin in The Little Shop of Horrors, Anthony Perkins in Psycho…our house in Cambridge had been transformed into a Gothic castle.
This incubation phase lasted for about a month before the creation had fully come to life, ready to be transferred to its permanent home. Our small fridge struggles to fit a block of cheese, six eggs and a jar of olives, however for the last six years one entire shelf has become the permanent residence of a large plastic box containing THE MOTHER. 
Now sourdough bread is not made in a speedy fashion; there are manifold stages I soon discover: a gloopy mass is slopped in tins or slumped on baking trays; in the airing cupboard, laundry is swept aside to make room for proving dough. Occasionally we escape to the pub: “how about another drink?’ I say. A watch is consulted … no, time for another round of kneading. We go home. Later in the evening, last cup of coffee drunk, television watched: “I’m going to bed, you coming?” “Uh no it’s time to bake”… and so it goes.
Six years on I’ve kind of got used to the rhythms of the sourdough, the concentrated study of books by Dan Leader or Andrew Whitley, the obsessive scanning of blogs on Sourdough Companion website (I’m serious, this does exist).
OK, the bread is bloody delicious, but spouses be aware: once taken over by the sourdough virus your partner may look the same but they are not: their allegiance is to THE MOTHER.  There is no known antidote.
"Oh Mother...."


  1. SO true and well written, but sour dough is good fun and tastes wonderful.

  2. I made it once and the starter and the bread tasted like paint. I feel a bit put off now which is a shame because I love sourdough!