As Miles, Constantine and I walked into the shared ACEnet kitchen this morning, like we do almost every morning, we halted suddenly, surprised by what lay in front of us. “What is this? Is this for anyone?” We remarked at the tray of four or five loaves of cinnamon sugar bread, left out on the counter in an enticing and inviting way. The bakers informed us that it was bread that was a bit old, didn’t sell well in the store front, and that would need a bit of “culinary expertise” to make it acceptable again. At that comment, I swear I saw a light bulb go off over Constantine’s head. From that moment on, today was Athens’ Own culinary school.
When we talk about resilience, we usually mention utilizing any and every opportunity you have, including making the most out of every situation. Many times, that includes a sense of mystery. We don’t ever know what will be put on the table in front of us today. We might wake up to a power outage, a surprise visit from a friend, a crate of spoiled eggs, or any number of positive or negative unforeseen events. A resilient team, as part of a resilient community can take whatever pops up and make the most positive results out of it. Today, on our table, in front of us, appeared some loaves of stale bread.
The team swung into immediate action – “Miles! Go get a knife, butter, a skillet and a turner!”, “Alyse, get out your camera!”, “Hey Crumbs, can we borrow some cinnamon sugar?”. Within a few short moments, Constantine was instructing Miles on the procedure of quickly and effectively buttering and grilling bread. “No, no, put the butter in the pan first, then slide the bread around to coat it. Those are thick slices so you need more butter.” Interspersed with suggestions of how to organize the cooking area, flip bread with a flick of the wrist, and what “golden brown” meant, the smell of lovely cinnamon began to fill the kitchen. Then appeared a nice silver tray, and the next class, how to attractively display these tasty morsels, had begun. “Tap the side of the sugar sifter, don’t shake it, gently, just like that, very nice…”. And before 8:30am, we were handing a tray of warm, gooey, fried cinnamon bread to the bakers to try. An odd silence fell on the kitchen, interspersed with chewing noises and nods of approval. But we’re not done yet! “Go get some eggs, we’re going to make French Toast next!”. And a relatively short amount of time later, I had learned what “lacing” syrup was, as I photographed Miles’ attempts to pour a stream of Athens’ Own maple syrup in a steady, zig-zag fashion across the toast. Personally, I preferred the grilled bread to the french toast, but they were both excellent.
As I struggled to get Miles to hold up his culinary creations and “SMILE!”, I documented the learning process as best I could with my camera, and marveled at how in only an hour, Miles (and myself!) had effectively learned how to up-cycle bread. Two delicious dishes created from something that was previously thought to be borderline inedible, which we saved from the trash can and used to feed an entire bakery crew a delicious breakfast! Not to mention the continuing education on sanitation, organization, and teamwork that happened simultaneously.
A Facebook post regaling our morning adventure, accompanied by a photo of Miles almost smiling was quickly uploaded, to inform the community about the spontaneous learning which happened today. Responses came in with excitement, asking if we would offer this new treat at the Farmer’s Market. And suddenly, we had another opportunity appear on the table. If we sold grilled cinnamon bread at the market, think of all other projects we might be able to put those profits toward, and what we might learn, or what else we might find in front of us along the way. Time to swing into action again! The resilience team is on the job!