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Lucy Deedes recently joined the team in our Petworth food shop and already she has noticed the effect our range of artisan breads has on our customers. Read on as Lucy picks up the story…
“Even for the customers who have dashed in for a piece of blue cheese or a lime, the bread stops them in their tracks. As it should. They see the loaves piled high on the counter, right up close to them so they can smell the yeast and the dates and see its satisfying solidity and the drift of flour and nuts in the trays – and they have to have some. There’s nothing like a fresh loaf – it’s as plump and comforting as a new puppy.
I grew up in Kent, where my mother had a small organic smallholding and ours was pretty much a self-sufficient household: the weekly order to the grocer consisted of soap powder and tea. And maybe coffee and raisins but you get the idea.
She didn’t grow wheat but bought organic compost-grown wheat by the sack from a neighbouring farm. There was a curious French machine for grinding the wheat each time she baked, with a noise that sounded like a handful of pebbles thrown into a Magimix. The canary in its cage screamed with joy at the din; I sat on the lid of the Aga and read aloud to my mother whilst she worked and my father ( a journalist) perched on the edge of a chair at the kitchen table, calmly tapping away with two fingers on his pre-war typewriter. Making bread seems to have been bound up in my life forever.
Years ago I had a job selling vacuum cleaners in a department store. I didn’t exactly expect my boss to burst into song after my first sale but his response was a little discouraging. ‘You didn’t sell them the Care Plan!’ he cried, pain etched on his face. ‘They didn’t want it,’ I said. ‘That’s not the point,’ he said.
Selling bread is a whole different thing. The customers ponder briefly, make a choice and receive their loaf; it’s heavy, floury and spanking fresh in its crisp paper bag. Here today and gone today; they’ll be back tomorrow for more and not a care plan in sight.”
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