I recently experienced peak happiness while eating a slice of bread. Not just any bread, of course, but nothing too fancy, either.
I made the bread myself two days earlier using a sourdough starter I have been feeding weekly for more than ten tears. I served it with a thick wedge of triple cream aged Brie from the Cowgirl Creamery in Marin County, California.
Next, I added alderwood smoked sea salt and a Japanese nori seasoning with black and white sesame seeds.
I paired the bread with vegan kabocha winter squash soup made with three year aged barley miso from South River Miso.
The rye was made with organic flour and took two days to make and then another two before it would slice as thinly as I desired, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I used a Wuestof serrated bread knife for this part.
I served the soup first, then organically farmed lettuce from Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero, California, with sliced bread, Mount Tam triple cream, and organic unsalted butter.
I served jasmine green tea that had been steeped a few times already, giving it an earthy, umami element that paired well with the simple meal.
What made a meal like this so over the top special? Because it was happening now, in late March 2020, during a major global flu pandemic. A home cooked meal made using local ingredients and well crafted extras like the cheese, miso, and the tea leaves.
We measure happiness in relation to moments of misery, both personal and collective. Much of the world feels pretty miserable right now and are eating from cans. I know! So do I, some days. Just not this day. This was the day I discovered how happiness inducing a simple slice of bread can taste. Because the act of eating it was only part of the equation. I made it. I waited for it. I shared it. I even put the crumbs out for the birds (you’re welcome, guys). It was peak happiness. And it was much simpler than I ever expected it to be.
Next time, however, I hope there won’t need to be a worldwide pandemic to elevate the simple act of slicing bread into something sublime. If such a moment ever returns, period!
Peak happiness probably surprises us when we don’t expect it or spend thousands of dollars or more seeking it out in a fancy resort, vacation getaway, or restaurant. It does for me. Maybe it has also been the same for you? I hope so! For your sake & for mine.