I love yeast. It makes bread, and it makes beer. We have come from San Francisco, a land where its sourdough yeast is famous. There is also a San Francisco lager yeast to make what’s known as a California common beer, a lager-ale hybrid. Both of these yeasts may be the only truly indigenous yeasts to the U.S. We’ve been making beer with San Francisco lager almost since we first began. We learned how to make bread in 2014, and our sourdough starter is still here (in some form).
Our cross-country drive felt too complicated to be constantly tending my sourdough yeast. My comrade-in-gluten, Amy, met us at the airport not only to see us off but to give me 100 grams of the yeast she took from me. Today I finally fed my yeast and (hopefully) will be making some bread in the next couple of days.
Today was also our first brew day in our new home. Our new kitchen counter tops, gas stove top range, and dishwasher at the end of the day felt incredibly luxurious. We ordered and pitched San Francisco lager yeast into a vat of our new beer, Oyster Card Stout — so named for the travel cards they use here, and also for its style, an oyster stout. We boiled three, whole oysters in the black beer, which adds a complexity and smoothness to a usually bitter style. Imagine that it’s sort of like salted caramel (or bicarbonates and diacetyl flavors).
These yeasts are all about traveling, all about where they came from. This week I found myself in a bottle shop, staring at all the beers to realize breweries remind me of home. San Francisco craft beer is the boss, even over here, and has always been something that (as different as we are) David and I can do together.
The first photo is our two yeasts together, the lager yeast on the left and the sourdough starter on the right.
Leaving home and bread is a big part of the Exodus story that I’ve been meandering through. We celebrated Passover with David’s parents right before we came to London. The Israelites lived and worshiped in tents for years. And the story goes that God rained down quail and manna to the Israelites everyday. You only took what you needed and trusted that the next day there would be more.
I’ve been pretty aggressively embracing this story because, well, I need it right now. Each day is a battle to wake up and forge ahead in artmaking, in seeing new art, in trying to build a professional network, in meeting new people in the hopes of finding a friend or two. Unpacking and putting together the house is helping me feel settled.
And so, I’m excited to share about our couch-manna, kitchen-table-and-chairs-manna, and clothes-rack-manna. We needed a sofa-bed and managed to find a free (!) one the day before our first house guest arrived. I write to you from our kitchen table, where we can eat like regular humans, a purchase off Gumtree. There were too many wardrobe heartbreaks, so we dropped £13 ($20) on Ikea clothes racks and called it a day. These were the final things we needed for this apartment-tent, and we spent less than $200 on it all!
Likewise we’ve been finding friend-manna in various places. We are anxious that we won’t make friends. Then we remember it just takes time. We are afraid of being lonely. That might happen, but we’re still okay. It was amazing to have Sean, our friend from undergrad days, visit us again for a few days before he flew home from his (literal) worldwide tour. Kind coworkers are slowly becoming kind friends with invitation for dog-walks and pints.
And then I need to say thank you. Thank you for all the encouragement and text messages and cheers that I can do this. I am a quality-time introvert, a strange hybrid whose energy is destroyed by people she doesn’t know well but who needs copious amounts of time with the people she loves. Making friends and finding a new home are probably the most terrifying and challenging things I must do in my life. Knowing that you, my friends and family, sometimes think and pray and send happy, American vibes across the pond is a great gift. Your texts and messages and emails are a nourishing friend-manna.
We will keep making bread and beer, because it seems those help us make friends and feel at home. We really are full of gratitude for all we have, while at the same time laugh at how we ended up here as part of our weird journey.