Focaccia and the argument from irreducible complexity (Alternative Title)
Nothing encourages my megalomania more than a successful loaf of bread. I get quite giddy with my opinion of myself after such a success, swanning about my kitchen like I have just descended Mnt Olympus to pop something into an oven. I mercilessly lord over my yeast colonies like a cruel titan, fuelled by a mad love of power; eventually destroying them in a fit of pleasure.
How do I explain this? Well, with reference to a philosophical argument of course:
There is a popular pro intelligent design argument that goes something like this: the human eye is just too complex, specific and all together wonderful for it to be a product of mere natural selection it must be the work of God. (Well, that’s it poorly stated with poetic license – For a more accurate expression you will have to go somewhere other than a baking blog). Now, I know better than to comment on the merits of this argument. I mention it only because the reasoning here is something like what I think when I successfully execute a bread recipe. This is going to be a bit of stretch, I ask you ,reader, to take a few leaps with me. There are times when I bite into a piece of bread and think: “This loaf’s flavour is too complex, its crumb too tender and its crust too crisp for its baker (me) to be a mere mortal- hobbyist. This must be the work of something great.”
I get mixed up, you see. Bread is just so wonderful and glorious that I get confused. I start thinking that the miracles that happen when you put yeast, flour, water, heat and pressure together have something to do with me. I do eventually find my way back to humility. This is usually as a result of my habit of pressing my pale and hungry face up against bakery windows. The sight of a fat pile of perfectly shaped and scored country loaves can be profoundly humbling to a recreational baker (humbling and appetite inducing).
My latest loaf a caramelised onion and thyme focaccia (the one in the photographs) is going to require a considerable amount of window-time to bring me back to earth, but first its time for a sandwich.