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Good bread for everybody

December 4, 2012 - Harry Eagar
Lots of people are posting fond memories of Jose Krall, the baker and pastry cook at Maui Bake Shop & Deli, who is missing since his plane crashed Saturday. Here is my favorite.

Jose’s productions were first-rate and priced accordingly. A strawberry dressed up in a tuxedo made of dark and white chocolate, for example, cost about $3. The exception was his baguettes, the bread that is the staff of life for the French.

When a sort of imitation baguette was available at local supermarkets for $3 or so, a genuine, crusty, hard baguette from Jose cost just $1.25. I once asked him why his baguettes were so cheap when his other loaves were priced around $6. I cannot recall his exact words, but the gist was:

“Everyone should be able to afford to eat good bread.”

In his old shop, before his brief retirement, he had a poster that read, in French, “In his (the baker’s) hands, the essence of good bread.” Jose Krall was a master baker who took his craft seriously. He walked the walk.

The text above is what I posted at Kamaaina Loan's blog. Since Kamaaina Loan's outlook is generally positive, I stopped there. The rest of the story is that Americans won't eat hard, sour bread.

Over the years, Jose's baguettes got fatter and softer, and the price also converged with the imitation baguettes in the supermarket trade.

I never asked him about it but I think I knew him well enough to guess that he was disappointed that people wouldn't eat his best production even when it was cheaper. As we used to say in East Tennessee, some people, if they didn't have bad taste, they wouldn't have no taste at all.


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