To award-winning journalist and tireless traveler Susan Seligson, bread -- whether it's a crusty baguette, a round of pita, or a flat of matzo -- is nothing less than the currency of a culture, a reflection of people's beliefs, their daily lives, and blood memories. Passionately curious, Seligson has an eye for finding meaning in everyday rituals. In Going with the Grain, she stalks pillowy round loaves on their way to and from the communal bakeries of Morocco's ancient city of Fès, witnesses the painstaking creation of what may be the world's most expensive artisanal pain au levain, and tours the gleaming, sterile steel innards of a mammoth Wonder Bread factory.
In prose shaped with conviction and leavened by wit, Seligson introduces us to the food engineer of the U.S. Army bread project working in the laboratory to create a palatable bread with a shelf life of three years and the Alabama octogenarian for whose biscuits devotees happily drive an hour each way for breakfast. From the tents of Jordan's Wad~ Musá to the schmurah matzo factories of Brooklyn, from the kitchens of New Delhi to the granaries of the lush Irish countryside, Seligson braids her adventures with fascinating historical detail and lively personal reflections about this most fundamental of foods. Whether bread appears in its simplest form, a mixture of flour and water baked on a blazing hot surface, or as the product of modern scientific ingenuity, its importance is best expressed by the Arabic word aysh. It is also the word for "life."