My watch broke recently and required a major overhaul. I purchased it in April 1992 on the day after the completion of my first year university final exams in order to mark the occasion and to reward myself. Although the crystal is scratched and it lacks a second hand, this watch has served me well over time and has great sentimental value, representing the endless hours of study and academic anxieties which were endured over the years. It knew me when I still did not know myself, during a time when my life could have veered onto a completely different path had I listened to that tiny inner voice which was shy and uncertain.
But time passes and life evolves. I find myself thinking less and less about my previous incarnation, although recently, pangs of reminiscence (not regret) were evoked when I served two customers with obvious ophthalmic ailments. A sense of curiosity combined with sadness was felt because of the realization that I possessed the knowledge but no longer the privilege of inquiring about their eye condition. I am surprisingly indifferent about this loss probably because what I have gained by taking the giant leap out of medicine into pastry is the recognition of my own parameters for success and happiness. I have learned to define what success is for myself, task by task, day by day.
Having said that, this chanterelle mushroom and thyme bread was certainly my personal success today. Giving it time to ferment overnight in the fridge gave it wonderful flavour. The crust is crackly and crisp, despite my unpredictable oven, because I threw ice cubes into the hot oven as the bread went inside in order to mimic the steam injection of a commerical bread oven (my boss' suggestion). The soft airy interior is enough to transform me into a breadlover. These loaves are the best breads I have ever made at home.
Perhaps the biggest lesson in all of this is that all good things take time and for me, sixteen years later, my watch and I are still ticking, even if it is to a different rhythm.