Everyday alchemy

31 May 2010 § 3 Comments

As my wife will cheerfully attest, cooking does not rank high on my (very short) list of accomplishments. I am fascinated by bread-making, though: I know it’s all down to chemistry, really, but there’s something miraculous about the transformation these simple, natural ingredients undergo. Making a batch of rolls today got me thinking about this everyday alchemy, and a sonnet inevitably followed.


The quest to turn base metals into gold
Consumed men’s minds. Mad, poisoned, they pursued
The secret: now their crucibles are cold
And all the hellish potions that they brewed
Are lost, as was their cause. They did not see
The mythic formula had long been found.
A genius unnamed by history
Had gathered grains, thought long and deep, then ground
Them fine between two stones. Now I take flour
And, adding water, yeast and salt, perform
A homely miracle: inside an hour
These simple things are magically transformed.
The man who bakes his own bread understands
The power they sought was always in our hands.

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§ 3 Responses to Everyday alchemy

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