“This Bread is My Life”

Focaccia bread out of the oven (easy!).

Most kids are particular eaters. (Notice I didn’t say “picky”?) That’s okay because their young palates are a work in progress. Be patient with them.

Last spring when we welcomed nine-year-old Javier from Spain to stay with us for four weeks, I was mildly concerned about what he likes to eat. I asked his mother if she had any recipes that I could make to make him feel at home. She wisely said that Javier would eat what we eat and he likes American food; i.e., burgers and pizza. The idea of Javier coming to the United States is, after all, immersion into American culture and here I was thinking about making Spanish food!

I made simple foods — grilled meats, pasta, eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, simple vegetables, and of course, burgers and pizza. Javier always seemed agreeable to whatever I served — politely refusing or accepting depending on what he thought he liked. Occasionally, he would ask a question in his best English about a certain food and we would try to explain.

In my world, food equals welcome. Food equals hospitality. Food equals love. Food can make or break a trip. Was Javier really enjoying what we served at our dinner table? If not, I had four weeks to figure it out.

Then, something happened. I made focaccia bread, served it hot from the oven. I offered olive oil for dipping and freshly ground pepper. Javier took a slice of the warm bread, dipped it in the oil, took several bites and exclaimed in the biggest voice I had heard since he arrived: “This bread is my life!”

Need I say more? We then referred to my bread as “This Bread is My Life Bread.” Javier returned this fall to stay with us for another four weeks. You know what appeared on the menu.

The Recipe — The Game of Telephone

Remember the kids’ game of telephone? It’s when someone whispers something into the ear of another, then the phrase gets whispered to the next person, and so on, until the last person says the phrase out loud and everyone compares it to what they heard. It never ends up sounding like what was intended and that’s why it’s fun.

Such is the way of this recipe. My friend Melanie got the recipe from her friend Simona who told it to her. I got the recipe from Melanie who told it to me. I guess this is what they did in the old days before e-mail, they just described recipes. Who knows if I prepare it the way Melanie told me or the way Simona intended. Whatever, here is my version.

Recipe for Focaccia Bread (a.k.a. “This Bread is My Life Bread”)

Serve with olive oil for dipping.

Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread which is topped with herbs or other ingredients. This bread is so easy. Put it on the stove to rise before you leave for work in the morning, when you get home, it is ready to bake.

Preparing the dough.

  • Buy frozen bread dough at the store (loaves)
  • Spray a large baking sheet with oil.
  • Put one loaf of the frozen bread dough on the cookie sheet. Spray the dough with oil, and then cover it with wax or parchment paper.
  • Let the dough rise for several hours. When the bread has risen, punch it down, spread it out. Brush olive oil over the top and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake until golden brown about 20 minutes in 375 degree oven.
  • Try various toppings like parmesan cheese, herbs or whatever you like. My family likes the olive oil and kosher salt version.
  • Serve the bread with olive oil for dipping and freshly ground pepper.

Our Young Bread Lover, Javier, from Spain

To read about Javier and his family from Pamplona, Spain, read the post from his mother, Cristina, my guest blogger

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