⟨ Food ⟩

An afternoon of conversation. Two women and the chewy French bread

Dolce Vita

words & photography / MINICHERRYB

阿福媽其實才三十幾歲,因為生了孩子名叫阿福,所以大家也稱她為阿福媽。

阿福媽本來在台北擔任烘培產品設計師,工餘時因興趣學習造麵包,阿福出生後不久便決定跟先生搬到台南定居,為了照顧阿福,再加上在台灣南部找到烘培產品設計師這種工作實在太渺茫,所以搬家時阿福媽已經準備好在家工作,成為天然酵母麵包師,這些關於創業的故事本來便可以很簡單又直接地道出,不作花巧的陳述。

我喜歡吃麵包,但是要我自己動手製作實在太複雜,雖然現在有麵包機可以更方便地製作麵包,但總覺得經過人手揉捏、在烤箱慢慢膨脹的才是真正的麵包。所以,我喜歡看阿福媽烤麵包,而阿福媽最喜歡的是法國麵包,法國麵包不止於長棍麵包,只用水、鹽和麵粉製作的麵包是法國麵包的一種,咬下去很有韌度,而且單純到可以吃出麵粉的味道。

Since the birth of her child Afu, everyone simply calls her Afu’s Mama. She is a young mother in her thirties. 

Before moving to Tainan, Afu’s Mama lived in Taipei and worked as a product designer for bakeware and kitchenware. It was also in Taipei where she started to learn bread-making during her free time. Not long after the birth of Afu, she and her husband decided to move to Tainan. Knowing she would be busy with raising the child, as well as the fact that it would not be easy to get a designer job for baked goods in Tainan, Afu’s Mama had planned to work from home as a baker who only bakes with natural yeast. The story for one to start their own business can be as simple and straight-forward as Afu’s Mama’s.

 I love eating bread, but making my own bread is just too complicated for me. No matter how much bread machines have simplified the bread-making process, I still see handmade bread as the only authentic type of bread. For this particular reason, I find it absolutely pleasurable to watch Afu’s Mama making her bread. Among all varieties of bread, French breads are her favorite. While most people typically associate French bread with baguette, it is only one type of French bread. Characterized by its chewy texture, French bread is a simple type of bread that is made only with water, salt, and flour.

神奇酵母
「讓麵包發酵,我用的是自家調配的魯邦種(Levain Liquide)酵母,那又稱為老麵或酸麵糰。」阿福媽說。

「自家調配的酵母,還帶法國名字,讓人覺得像帶有魔法一樣,一定是甚麼鎮店的秘密。」我說。

「也不全是秘密,但是每位麵包師都有其酵母配方。魯邦種就是以裸麥麵粉與水混合的方法,它在不加菌種的情況下,單靠裸麥麵粉本身的糖份、水及空氣中的微生物發酵成酵母,不加入其他含糖份的食材幫助發酵,感覺製作出來的麵包更為單純。 」

「其實很科學,都是計算每一克的麵粉、溫度的提升或下降、時間的分秒,甚至是春夏秋冬的濕度都會影響酵母的成功或失敗。即使如我造了麵包幾年也會有失敗的時候,而且是當看見麵包沒有烤好,才會知道是酵母發酵失敗了。」阿福母說來淡然。

「我最不喜歡花了時間卻最終失敗。」

「所以造麵包是要練習接受失敗和挫敗感,容許、接受人生不會一直成功。」看著捏著麵糰的阿福媽,讓我好期待出爐的麵包。

時間這東西,真的很難衡量長短,月亮圍繞地球公轉的週期是29到30天之間,麥子收割平均是一年兩次,烤好十個海鹽捲的時間不過半小時⋯⋯花時間在自己感興趣的事上,一下子便黃昏了。如果能接受失敗,甚至偶然的徒勞無功,人生會不會比較快樂呢?

The magical yeast
“I use Levain Liquide as the leavening agent for my bread. It is also called ‘old dough’ or ‘sourdough’,” says Afu’s Mama. 

“A homemade yeast with a French name just gives a magical touch to the whole thing, as if it was a secret recipe of the shop,” I reply.

“It is not entirely a secret, but each baker has their own yeast recipe. Levain Liquide is a mixture of rye flour and water that ferments without the help of any commercial yeast or other leavening agents. It only relies on the rye flour and water mixture to take on the wild yeast in the air to ferment into yeast. Not adding any content of sugar to the mixture allows me to make bread of purity.

“This is all about science. I need to calculate everything precisely, the amount of flour, the temperature, the time, and even the seasonal change can affect the result of the fermentation. Even with my years of experience, there are times when I only realized my yeast hasn’t fermented properly when I saw my bread not rising well in the oven,” Afu’s Mama seems to take it somewhat easy as she talks.

“I don’t like time being wasted on a failure.

“Therefore, making bread is also a process of learning to accept failures. We need to understand life doesn’t always pan out the way you want it to be.” Looking at how Afu’s Mama kneads her dough, I am so looking forward to seeing the bread coming out of the oven.

How long is long enough? The moon takes around 29 to 30 days to go through a cycle of all phases, wheat crops harvest twice a year, ten sea salt bread roll takes mere 30 minutes to bake… Time flies when you are spending it on things you enjoy. Can people be happier if they learn to accept failures and allow efforts going in vain?

不要賣掉
「那,孩子呢?還沒有上小學的阿福,是怎麼看媽媽賣麵包這件事?」我看著今早因阿福趕上學而被遺留在餐椅上的小豬娃娃好奇問。

「如果看到今天有喜歡的麵包,他會直接說: 『希望不要賣掉』。」

「孩子實在太可愛了吧!全都喜歡怎麼辦?」

「有時會想如果世界不止金錢交易會更有趣吧!就是可以以物易物,或是技能上的交換,不用為了賺錢過生活,應該可以更好玩。」

我想,這大概是所有自由業者的生活期許吧!我們都期許一個更友善的社會,一個除了賺取金錢以外,又能維持基本生計的生活模式。而孩子單純的期許,不修飾內心的慾望,不計較自私與否,好像讓我領悟到可以把渴望得到的原力化為動力生活下去。

Don’t sell it
“How about your kid? Afu hasn’t started primary school yet, what does he think about you selling bread?” I get curious about Afu when looking at the pig toy Afu left on the chair this morning when he had to rush to school.

“He would ask me not to sell it when he sees the bread he likes.”

“He’s so adorable! What if he likes all the bread?”

“The world could be a more interesting place if we don’t trade with money. We can directly exchange goods or services. It must be more fun if we didn’t need to earn money.”

I believe many freelancers can associate with this wish, we all wish a more friendly society where we can live a life without over-emphasizing on earning money. 

獨自快樂
「你有渴望過擁有同事嗎?一個人造麵包、一個人在咖啡廳門外擺攤賣麵包不會很悶嗎?」看著阿福媽用像剃刀的工具在白色的麵糰上輕巧地劃上幾刀。

「當同事聚在一起討論育兒、學習甚麼、團購甚麼時,我開始發現自己跟他們慢慢地變得差不多,這真的是我想要的嗎?或者這就是社會。」

「但如果在製作麵包時需要新的衝擊或靈感呢?」

「所以我需要朋友,朋友可以是我的烘焙班學生,擺攤時遇到的攤販、客人,資訊的交流是必需的,我也想知道現在流行怎麼樣的麵包,有沒有其他販售模式,但是我也享受獨處的快樂。」

我有時也會想到聚在一起或是獨自工作的關係,隨著越來越多人成為自由業,建構著社會的架構好像有一點點變化,無論是工作、學習、創作或是人與人之間的關係,應該隨著人們可以更獨立地表達自己,而變得更有趣吧!在這新一年,願我們都可以獨自快樂,在獨處中找到屬於自己的理想生活。

The joy of being alone
“Have you ever thought of having a co-worker? Don’t you find it boring to bake alone and being on your own selling your bread outside of a cafe?” I ask Afu’s Mama as she swiftly scores the dough with a razor-like tool.

“When co-workers get together, they normally talk about tips for raising a kid, what kinds, of course, do the kids go to, or do some online group buying. As time went by, I felt I was getting more like them. Is this what I want? Perhaps this is what a society does to people.”

“What if you need new inspirations for your bread?”

“That’s why I need friends. Friends can be students from my baking class, other sellers I meet when selling bread, and my customers. It is essential to share information so that I can keep myself up to date with the trending varieties of bread and learn about other sales channels. However, I do enjoy being alone.”

To work together with others or to work alone? This is a question that sometimes comes to my mind too. As freelancing has become a popular trend these days, this also affects our social structure. Be it on the level of work, learning, creating, or interpersonal relationship, everyone should feel more empowered to express themselves as an individual. This is a fascinating change. In the year coming, I wish we all can learn to treasure the joy of being alone and to seek our ideal ways of life through being in solitude.