My first major bread-related memory involves my first trip to Paris, as I'm sure it does for many well-travelled foodies out there.
Mine probably deviates a bit though - it is of sitting in my hotel room, too afraid to go out into the city, eating my way through a loaf of bread so delicious that even as I cry my eyes out I am unable to stop consuming it.
I was eighteen, travelling with another young female friend, and we were both terrified of Parisians. I should mention that on the first day a rather nasty specimen of a Frenchman had followed us a good eight blocks asking loudly for a blowjob from we "American Whores," so our experience had not been good. In fact, the entire three days we were there were mostly spent in the hotel room, watching horrible french television, venturing only as far as the bakery down the street. That bread was the single memorable thing about Paris for us- of sitting on our hotel bed consuming great chunks of it. It was that experience that really opened my eyes to how incredible bread can be.
(FYI I've since been back and although it wasn't as horrible, I still can't stand that city and the demeanor of its inhabitants to strangers. Sorry foodies.)
For the majority of my life I felt that really good bread was something I could never myself make - that bread making was some occult process that I could never hope to master. It is the antithesis of the way I normally cook,off the recipe, on the fly. All that weighing, math, patience, steps to follow - I'm not good with these things.
Well, I've decided to face my fear of bread baking and master the style of cooking that I am weakest at.
PinchMySalt has started a Bread Bakers Challenge, in which we work our way through every recipe in the Bread Bakers Apprentice, a fantastic book on baking by a guy who knows what he's talking about. I feel this is one of my culinary fears, something I should get over. Bread is essentially flour, water, and yeast - it is something people have made for thousands of years, and there is no reason why I should hold it on a pedestal. I'm entirely sure the first few attempts will be utter disasters, but this is something I should face.