When I met up with Malin to take a first look at her book, she showed me a little video she had filmed with her phone on a trip to Kabul. In it, a couple of older Afghan women are sitting together in a female-only bakery, preparing bread in a tandoor oven from the dough that Malin had made for them. They’re concentrated on their task, you can hear them chatting and, once in a while, there’s Malin’s excited voice in the background.
„The Bread Exchange“ is like that moment: curious, intimate, loving. A pure celebration of food. Yes, food, not just bread. Although that’s how it all started for Malin.
She was looking for some decent bread in Berlin and when she couldn’t find any, decided to simply make her own sourdough. Luckily for a lot of other people who like good bread, she also began trading the loafs for whatever they could come up with – home-made jams, guitar lessons, a Patti Smith book, a little help fixing her bike. But, true to her motto „everything is not for sale“, never money. The bartering took her to rooftop dinner parties in New York and boat trips in Stockholm, to the Sinai and the Hindukush, from which grew a community of people who offered more than 1400 (yes, 1400!) trades.
There’s a lot to love about this book, the wonderful pictures or how much thought she put into every page and little detail. The fact that the cover and book mark reflect the colours of the bread’s main ingredients is just one example. What I enjoy most about it is that it’s not merely a collection of recipes, but of stories, so when you’re reading it, you feel like you’re right there at that dinner table, in that kitchen, by that stove. And isn’t that what food should be about? Coming together and sharing a common language even when you don’t necessarily understand what the other person is saying. Breaking bread, as it were.
Malin also collected recipes on her travels for the book and there isn’t a dish that I don’t want to try, from the Midsomar cake to the fig confit to the caponata. That is if I don’t get lost in one of her stories while trying to cook…
The book is available in English from The Bread Exchange website. If you’re in Berlin, you can also find it at Voo Store, do you read me?! and Uslar & Rai among others. It will hopefully be out in German some time next year.
PS Hasn’t it started to feel like book month around here? Well, my friends should just stop writing all of these great books. By which of course I mean that she should keep writing many more great books. After Malin’s, Okka’s and Steffi’s, Alexa’s book is next on my list.