By now, you’ve probably decided upon your Thanksgiving menu (turkey, anyone?) and are Googling like crazy, or if you are old-fashioned, leafing through your favorite cookbooks, in pursuit of that one elusive, last-minute dish that will break with tradition. I am, per usual, behind. I am going to decide on the final details when I pick up my turkey on Wednesday.
In the meantime, I’m planning for remorse.
Because, no matter how good my intentions, I know I will be feeling it on Friday morning as I stare down the surviving slices of pumpkin pie on the kitchen counter. Before a sip of coffee crosses my lips, I know I will debate whether or not to get it over with and eat that pie for breakfast. What the hell. We all know that Friday will be a junior version of Thursday, with re-warmed mashed potatoes and gravy, or turkey sandwiches slathered in cranberry sauce and topped with stuffing, yes-siree. Never mind. By Saturday, I’ll be more or less back on track, making stock and soup and eating turkey sandwiches for a few more days on razor thin slices of the Polish rye bread I am going to tell you about in a minute. Razor thin slices of bread seem downright virtuous after prior dietary indiscretions.
I had two prompts that propelled me into bread-baking mode before I even started thinking about a Thanksgiving menu. One was a conversation a few weeks ago with an acquaintance, who happens to be Polish, about the bread of that country: loaves full of grainy, seedy, earthy, healthy goodness; loaves with dense and moist interiors and crisp, noble crusts that inspire sighs and longing; loaves that I have never been able to find here. My friend promised a recipe. She returned the very next day with some fresh yeast and a piece of paper in hand. Her daughter elaborated on the finer points—back and forth from Polish to English—and the pair of them gave me the address of a website to consult—written in Polish, but available in English with a tap on the Google translation button.