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Bad Bread

I'm hungry. No, starving. I would do anything to find some decent bread in Santa Barbara. With seeds and sour dough and crust that leaves a slightly bitter taste in your mouth. Dark slices with firm texture. Bread you can actually chew on. I am on hunger strike because I cannot take any more sweet 'n' soft sandwiches.

Yes, it's official. I'm having a food crisis. A very German one at that. White, pulpy American bread is the basic scare of all travelling Germans.

The thing is, I never bought it. I heard so many people whine about it all my life that I simply stopped listening. I was convinced they were just picky and spoiled and intolerant. The last thing I expected was that it could happen to me too.

I've lived in the States before, you know. In the Midwest, for a High School year; and during all that time I never complained about a single crumb they fed me. I enjoyed the sandwiches; I loved the corn bread; and never once did I turn down a hamburger, no matter how floppy the dough. I don't understand: Why now? This culture shock comes with a ten year delay and leaves me startled and starving.

Believe me, I've tried everything. I spent hours pacing the isles of Ralphs and Trader Joe's while studying brands and textures. I touched hundreds of spongy loaves wrapped in pretty plastic bags, hoping to feel some firmness. I picked up Sour dough and Russian Rye and Schwarzwalder Dark, none of which even had a faintly German flavor. They all tasted the same: sweet or even sweeter.

During the French Revolution, when the peasants had no bread to eat, Marie Antoinette supposedly suggested them to feed on cake instead. What I am going through feels like a crude realization of her ironical remark: I am faced with something that looks like bread but tastes like pure candy. For anyone who has no idea what I am talking about, try eating cheese and salami on a blueberry muffin.

So, I'm thinking about having my parents send me a care package. Bread for the World, a German act of kindness. But I am afraid the bread will be dry when it gets here. Of course, I could always try making my own daily bread; but, man, that seems like a lot of hassle. As the months go by, I will hopefully come up with more rational ideas (and please feel free to mail suggestions). Meanwhile, I will avoid the bakery section of the supermarket, and instead, close my eyes and think of Schwarzbrot.

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