Andrew Whitley - with the help of delicious tastings - reflects on the importance of bread in the Russian diet and reveals some of the secrets of the sourdough method that is essential to rye bread baking. He notes that the Russians’ preference for their own bread goes deeper than mere patriotism or nostalgia, signifying a respect for the connections and continuity of which sourdough is both metaphor and exemplar. Some personal stories of a longstanding relationship with Russia and its bread will be offered by way of a sandwich filling.
Andrew Whitley studied Russian at Sussex & Moscow Universities in the 1960s and subsequently worked for the BBC Russian Service. He left London in 1976 to start a new life as a small farmer and organic baker. His Village Bakery in Melmerby, Cumbria was the first to supply sourdough breads to major supermarkets. Andrew left the Village Bakery in 2002, did a Masters in Food Policy at City University London and wrote Bread Matters, a ‘searing critique of industrial baking’. He co-founded the Real Bread Campaign in 2008 and is currently developing Scotland The Bread, promoting a healthy, locally-controlled indigenous grain supply. Among the Scottish heritage wheat varieties that he is growing on his new agro-forestry project are seeds he brought from the Vavilov Institute in St Petersburg where they have been conserved since Nikolai Vavilov collected them during a trip to Britain in the 1930s. With his wife Veronica at their baking studio near Edinburgh, Andrew runs bread making courses (majoring on sourdough methods) for enthusiastic amateurs and professional bakers.
Ticket includes a drink and tastings.