The Notebooks
by Josée Fiset

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Nothing wasted, everything recreated

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh and last year’s cider.” Along those lines, my grandmother would often “revive” a loaf that had lost a bit of its lustre and bounce. Our eager taste buds could sense delicious bread pudding close on the horizon.

Let’s start with the bad news. According to recent studies carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, approximately one-third of food produced annually in the world ends up in the trash. A third! In Canada alone, food losses are estimated at 40%, which represents more than $30 billion per year. So who’s to blame? Essentially, we are! According to the statistics, every Canadian discards approximately 3.5 kg of foodstuffs weekly, aside from what is composted.

Okay, enough with the guilt trip. Now that we know the facts, let’s do something about it by buying less already, and in smaller sizes. And let’s just agree to serve smaller quantities. Just ask for more if you’re still hungry. Never waste a crumb. And especially, of course, let’s make the decision to prepare and work with leftovers, a global panacea!

Bread is one of the most abundant of stale ingredients and among the easiest to bring back to life. The driest loaves make wonderful breadcrumbs or tasty croutons to be toasted with oil and smoked paprika.

Pain perdu or “bread pudding” in English, astutely translated as “gained bread” in Dutch, also revives a loaf without even having to visit the grocery store, since milk and eggs are just about the only ingredients needed to prepare its base, similar to that of the famous British bread pudding that comes in a variety of versions.

To prepare this “poorman’s dish,” I know purists who swear the braided brioche is the be-all and end-all while others disregard the sweet version and garnish it with cheese and smoked ham. Vegans have moved towards an egg-free, dairy-free concoction. Replacing bread with croissants is certainly not a bad idea!

And the good news? Any self-respecting cook will confirm that leftovers very often spontaneously result in dishes hands-down superior to those intended for the “original” ingredients. Why is that? Maybe because we simply don’t expect to be impressed or perhaps because we’re not cooking for a dinner party and therefore the element of pressure is gone. Let’s enjoy the freedom and indulge – while doing something good.

For more information:


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