Posts Tagged ‘flat bread


The Baker

I bought a shaobing from this young man, piping hot from the cylinder drum which he baked them in. You could see the wafts of aromatic smoke trailing through the alley. As I nibbled on my oily flat bread, I slouched in a corner to watch him.

His movements were deft and practised. Knead, roll, dust with flour and a dash of water. Knead, roll, dust and dash. It was an internal rhythm punctuated only by the occasional peckish customer.

At one point, he bent into his dough and gave a couple of gentle blows. Perhaps to tickle the yeast that would later work its magic when the bread baked in the cylinder drum.

A quick jerk of his shoulder swept away perspiration beading at his forehead and he moved to pull knobs of dough to flatten into circular discs and attach them inside the heating cylinder drum. Within minutes, he was done assembling the tea-time batch.

Business was swift. It would be a matter of another hour or so before he’d have another go at it.

August 2009


A negotiation in bread

The jolly baker was a fixture at the market where teaming masses of human bodies bumped and jostled their way around.

He always had a smile on his face and ready conversation for his customers while he kneaded and baked his flat bread. For a man who had an almost permanent spot in the market, his baking paraphernalia was incredibly mobile.

A small crowd had gathered as I was taking his photo. A friend had shown one of the customers a random print photo I had taken. They shared it around while making clucking noises. I promised the baker I’d give him a portfolio shot the next time I see him.

“He should pay you for taking his photo then!” someone shouted. Approving murmurs ensued.

“5 pieces of bread for one photo!” another cheerfully volunteered. The baker laughed heartily although you could tell he was mentally weighing the costs.

Then the negotiations among the crowd began in earnest.

“6 pieces!”

“No! 4 pieces but with the sweet filling!”

“No, no!! He pays down payment with 1 piece!”

Over the din, more people joined in, wondering if a hostile argument had broken out.

Finally, his wife came along, perplexed by the commotion. Upon hearing the situation, she wisely settled on 2 pieces for a photo. And with that, all social order was restored.

December 2009

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