Chris Geiger

The Cancer Survivors Club

Bakeries, Bostock and banging Baristas!

I'm perched on a hard wooden stool, enduring the constant banging of a barista violently knocking spent coffee grinds out a puck.

Sitting on the table in front of me is a naturally fermented doughnut, overly filled with a chocolate ganache. It would be rude or disrespectful to its creator, if not impossible to try demolishing it in one giant bite - or attempt to eat it without licking my lips. On the plate next to it, is a slice of twice-baked buttery brioche, which has been transformed with orange liqueur, frangipane and almonds into what's called a Bostock. Both have been made to savour slowly, enjoy and luxuriate over.

The table is known as 'death row' to the bakers, who have spent the last 24+ hours skilfully transforming a few simple ingredients into such beautiful, irresistible edible delights. However, customers simply refer to this quiet, relaxing environment as 'the cafe' - yet this particular section within the Pinkmans bakery is a place where incredible, mouthwatering Viennoiseries, cakes and sandwiches await execution after being purchased - the angry barista would say something less sensitive I'm sure, like 'sentenced to death by chewing then swallowing'.

Okay, I admit it, I'm obsessed, almost neurotic about visiting bakeries, discovering, dissecting and analysing every product. This includes calculating the percentage of each individual ingredient used and processes involved in creating them. I've endless notes, detailing my findings when I first or last ate something. For the record, my first Bostock was at the now famous Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, my last Bostock was again Pinkmans, at the top of Park Street.

I get frustrated with people who nonchalantly use a throwaway chorus of nondescript emotionless phrases like 'great', 'good' and 'really good' to describe what they have just eaten. Nobody ever looks at a painting by say Leonardo da Vinci, and simply says 'it's nice' - yet most bakers like artists have spent a lifetime learning their craft.

East Bristol Bakery in St Marks Road is an excellent example of a bakery producing, fine handcrafted products. Their long fermented breads are made with just flour, water and a pinch of salt. The long fermentation breaks down the carbohydrates and gluten in the grains, so the bread is much easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed. The result is healthy bread, packed with nutrients and bacteria created by the fermentation. One of natures miracles for sure!

If I've the time and fancy a spot of people watching while indulging. I hang out at Bakesmiths on Whiteladies Road. I just wish it was compulsory for customers to slow down, switch off and add to their lifelong memories, as they would in a gallery, rather than treat any experience in a bakery like a disposable carrier bag.

However.... at this precise moment, I just hope the barista with an attitude, giving me a headache, spoiling the enjoyment for all the other paying customers, survives in his job as long as the doughnut I'm just about to eat.


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Bad Cells

Bad Cells by Chris Geiger - Newspaper Columns

Bad Cells is a collection of Chris Geiger’s thought-provoking and witty newspaper columns. His weekly column rapidly grew in popularity, eventually earning him the prestigious Columnist of the Year award.

Bad Cells includes Chris Geiger’s wide-reaching Guinness World Record column, published on World Cancer Day and an excerpt of his top selling book The Cancer Survivors Club. It also includes an exclusive and moving article, titled Bad Cells, describing his thoughts when first diagnosed and receiving treatment for cancer.

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