Storytelling as bread making, or perhaps the other way around. I'm not sure. In any case, a metaphor that includes soda bread seems especially apt for the terms of this project. Soda bread is made quickly, using basic ingredients. Bicarbonate of soda means that the bread will rise rapidly, not requiring the same time that a typical yeast bread might call for. If there's anything that stands out about this residency in Offaly, it's the quickness of it all. We've been immersed in this community and over the course of just a few days have had to pull together pieces of interviews and conversations in order to create a final product. It's not an easy task, but a challenge I think, that we have all accepted happily.
Gathering the stories has doubtlessly been the most interesting aspect of this project for me. Getting the chance to tour a 19th century mill, to speak with a baker, to bake a loaf myself, and to listen to the stories of an older group of women that Annie Valk interviewed, all provided me with the raw ingredients of the story. Crafting the bread will be more difficult. There are still other stories that I would like to tell. The story of the mill itself, and the history of its products: oats, wheat flour, animal feed. Each of these would make a fascinating story. Then there's the story of early globalization: buying flour from Minnesota and Manitoba to mill in rural Ireland. There are changes in the bread based on the availability of ingredients: Attracta Dooley tells a story of her mother's use of corn meal to make "brown bread" during World War II.
For now, I have to focus on how I'm going to edit the bread. Taking out the extra bits without mussing with the flavor or consistency.