Bread. Pane. Pan. Brot. Every culture maintains a historic, symbolic, often sacred relationship to its bread, and the travelers among you have tasted international variations on what is ultimately a very simple thing. It could be argued that bread’s beauty is in its simplicity, yet artisan baking is anything but simple.
In Boulder we’re fortunate to have many food artisans in our midst, and Maurizio Negrini, a local artisan baker, is as authentic as they come. His story is the subject of a film selected for screening October 20 at the New York Food Film Festival, the Chicago Food Film Festival in November, and the “Feast for the Eyes” Food and Wine Film Festival in Minneapolis. The film was written and directed by local filmmaker Una Morera who’s headed to New York this week to take part in the festival, co-produced by the James Beard Foundation. I attend about five international film festivals a year but until recently never knew about film fests focused on food! Apparently, they provide actual samples of the food starring in each film (inside tip: the New York festival’s web site also hosts a Food Porn Party!) to give audiences an authentic, sensory experience including the visual, aromas, texture, taste and mouthfeel.
If you’re a Boulder foodie, it’s likely you relish the chance to buy fresh bread at our local farmer’s market, but not many know the baker behind the bread—his provenance, motivations, and passion. Maurizio is a third generation baker from Bologna, Italy; he is the master baker and co-owner of Udi’s since 2000. Once you know his story, you will taste it in his bread. My favorites are the large, round, thick-crusted rustico (it keeps for days in a brown paper bag; just cut a thin slice off to get to the soft interior) and the flatbread—it’s sublime toasted with olive oil and Pink Himalayan sea salt, or as a caprese sandwich. Toasting the flatbread seems to release its divine aromas and flavor, and as our market days wane, those who covet it can tuck a bag of five into the freezer.
All food is art to Maurizio. As his community garden neighbor for the past six years, I have observed with awe his almost religious dedication to the entire process of growing the purest food possible…from compost to soil and seed quality to his impeccable sowing of razor-straight rows. He’s as pure as they come, and I feel closer to the essence of nature and earth when in his presence.
In the eight-minute film (free screening here for EatDrinkBoulder readers) you’ll see the same commitment to quality, essence, ritual, and love. “Food that is made with love is good. Food that is not made with love is not good.” Punto. His philosophy is that bread is composed with the elements of life—water, earth (flour), air (yeast), and the fire that ultimately creates the edible loaf.
On October 19, Udi’s will bake and send via FedEx enough bread to feed 350 lucky festivalgoers in New York. Getting hungry? Get thee to New York this week or alternatively, meet the humble master on Saturdays (through November 17) at the Boulder County Farmer’s market, one of few remaining venues to truly connect with the artisan behind the art.