Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Focaccia


I stood there in the Whole Foods on Waugh St with my mouth hanging open.  The "baker" was giving me every reason in the world why she could not and would not make focaccia.  Here I was a customer trying to explain to her no one in Houston that I knew of had real focaccia bread.  After imparting a few choice words to her, I stormed away. 


In Milan, Italy, school would let out at about 2:30pm at the school located at Felice Casati.  There was a large internal court yard where the crowd of parents would wait at for the children to be brought out.  As the children are united with us parents, we would all slowly make our way out the back, round the corner to the left or right.  We would head left.  The crowd would disperse but a number of us would stop at a local bakery for freshly made focaccia bread.

The children would line up, squishing their faces against the glass, smacking their lips for what is only....bread.  If you have never had real focaccia, this all is very strange and weird.  A baked good with no sugar other than that to feed the yeast and help the focaccia to rise.  And kids can't get enough of it.

Did you ever in your life see children lining up to eat Wonder Bread?

So why would children and their parents want....bread?  This
 bread?

Because focaccia is delicious.

Tre, per favore.
  I would say in the little Italian I knew.  One for me, my wife and our daughter.  You'd have to eat it using the little paper sack as a holder due to the enormous amount of olive oil that it is cooked in, then painted on the surface.  The bread is baked on large cookie sheets (Not the correct term.  I forget what the term is for the large shallow tray) baked to a spongy crispness.  It is anywhere from half of an inch to a whole inch thick.  The thicker focaccia bread could be sliced in half and used to make the most delicious sandwiches in the world.

Imagine my dismay at coming back to Houston and not finding it anywhere.  Oh, there are restaurants and bakeries that sell what they call focaccia.  But it's all fake.  None of it is real.

The Central Market on Westheimer where bakers wear the tallest hats in Houston sell focaccia.  Or so they think.  But all I can do is shake my head.

Panera Bread has a sandwich made with "focaccia" bread.  But again, it's not real focaccia bread.

Stop looking for it.  All you do is get angry and disappointed.  My wife would say.  I guess she's right.

I haven't checked out all the restaurants - which is an impossibility - so hope springs eternal that I will find a place in Houston that had decided to be honest with us and do it right.


I've decided I'll have to make some and shove into the Whole Food store manager's pie hole to make them sell the real stuff.

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