Bread and the Ballet

I was introduced to Mauricio over email. My sister sent me a message and implored me to meet this nice young man from Chile, who was coming to Santa Barbara to dance.  He had worked for her at her gym in South Carolina…

It took two weeks, but we were finally able to have him over, and spoil him a bit. He’s dancing for the State Street Ballet here in Santa Barbara, and will be touring with them once he returns from Chile at the end of September.

So, I’m sure this is a long shot, but do you remember when the last World Cup soccer matches were in play and I tried baking a few breads from around the world? Silly, I know, but I adore silliness. Anyway, back then I found a workable recipe of a sweet anise bread (from Uruguay) and I’m thinking this might be a wonderful gift for a young dancer who says that he loves bread. He pridefully announced that people in Chile eat more bread than any other South American country. I think this gives me free reign to spoil a starving dancer with at least one fresh loaf of bread.

Don’t you?

Anyway, he just left the States for the comfort of his home in Santiago. While he’s away, I’ve already practiced making this recipe once. Yum. See–already half eaten before I could get the camera out!

The recipe link above leaves much to be desired, so I had to fiddle here and there, and then I braided the loaves for extra fun. I will post a new recipe–my own version–in a few weeks (after a few more trials, which my kids will adore; they love this bread and will probably shower me with affectionate hugs and kisses when I bake it again…)

What about you? Any  young Chileans floating into your life these days? Dancers? Maybe not, but if my kids are any measure, you may want to try baking up this loaf just for fun. Bonus hugs and extra smooches are always worth the effort…

World Cup Bread–Uruguay

Baked two loaves of Uruguayan sweet anise bread

(Also made some faina…)

Mixed: 8:15 am

Molded: 10:15 am

Baked: 11 am

Gave to Steven and Elaine, nice neighbors who just moved in next door

My husband and I are big soccer fans. Almost geeky in our love for the sport. He played as a child, and we both played for many years as adults. There’s something really addicting about chasing after that black and white ball–and scoring goals. I really loved to score goals 🙂

So, each year when the World Cup comes around we break all our normal television rules, call the cable company for service, and rise at whatever time needed to watch the matches. Yes, geeky in our love…

Anyway, I’m a big South American fan and come the semi-finals I was rooting on Uruguay with fervor. I got so excited about their chances that I decided to look up some Uruguayan bread and bake away. I got even more excited when I found a recipe for a gluten-free flatbread called faina or farinata. It’s a mixture of garbanzo bean flour, parmesan cheese, salt, black pepper and olive oil. It sounded wonderful and I was ready to pass on this great new find to all my gluten-intolerant pals. But… the faina is pretty near horrible stuff. I made it two nights ago and everyone in the family gave it a willing whirl. The comments that passed around the table went like this: “disgusting,” “awful,” “how could you?!”

I began to despair for Uruguay. If this is what the team is fed on then no wonder they lost to the Netherlands.

Here it is–I made a tower out of the pieces that I cut into cracker-like shapes. I’m not sure what else to do with it–except play. The kids said it might make a good Lord of the Rings lembas if we were in an epic tale of despair versus hope, (and that we would win by feeding it to the bad guys) but….

Ahhh, but I gave the Uruguayans a second chance with the Sweet Anise Bread recipe that I found. I fiddled and adjusted a few things, and wow, what a delicious bread! I was happy to share with our brand new neighbors on the corner, which led to an afternoon of getting to know them–a blessing we haven’t had from tenants in that house in a long time.

So, Germany and Uruguay play in just a few hours. Depending on the outcome, I think I’ll know which bread they ate for breakfast before the match.