So… we’re locked up, you’re locked up, everybody’s locked up. We here at Austin Film Festival call this an important opportunity to learn things about one another that no one in their right mind would ever think of learning about one another. And thus, this Staff Blog was born. Weekly you’ll be hearing from one of our staff members and what we’re up to right now.
For our inaugural blog, you get the pleasure of hearing from me, Rob Gonzalez, AFF Film Competition Director. I am here today to talk to you about something that’s been on the rise lately.
We all know that one person who the moment social distancing became a thing was like “Oh my god, this is the perfect opportunity to start making my own bread.” Some of you might even be that friend. I am that friend.
Bread is basically just a mix flour, water, and yeast and BOOM good to go. In theory.
I had no yeast in my kitchen. Which means I had to culture my own. I mixed equal parts water and flour, vigorously stirred, and then covered the bowl with an old pillowcase my girlfriend has been “suggesting” I get rid of. With frequent stirring yeasty cultures ignited and came alive. More flour, more water, more stirring. Repeat. Soon enough you have a sourdough starter. Mix that in with a bunch more flour, let rise, and bake. Sourdough loaf.
I didn’t make it that far.
I was not using a big enough bowl. I did not own a big enough bowl. So every time I vigorously stirred the sourdough starter and the yeast was excited and expanded slightly, that bowl got real full. One might even say too full. Which just led to sourdough starter all over the counter.
Fun fact though, if your sourdough starter is lively enough it will eat and destroy any bacteria or virus on said counter. I was actually being cleanly.
Counter cleanliness aside, I continued to feed my starter regularly and eventually came to the realization that I no longer had enough excess flour to actually bake bread.
But do not be discouraged readers. On top of having a newfound passion for breadmaking, I also love history.
San Francisco wants you to believe that all things sourdough stem from them and the 1848 California Gold Rush. But what Big Sourdough doesn’t want us all to know is about the sourdough of a different gold rush.
Alaska, 1896. Gold has been discovered in the Yukon. Miners and their bubbling pots of sourdough arrive and encounter immediate problems. Sourdough starter requires a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees to stay lively (see California). Alaska, on the other hand, would regularly see temperatures in the -50 range. Having living sourdough could literally mean you would eat or starve.
So, what does my meager supply of flour and Alaskan Sourdoughs have to do with one another? The premiere sourdough dish in Alaska was the Miner’s Hotcakes. No one had enough flour left over to make bread as they were all too busy robbing one another for their sourdough. So hotcakes on a fire were all they could manage!
And I have lots of starter and not lots of flour! Pancake time!
Basically, this is my confession to all of you that I, a grown man, have been eating nothing, but pancakes for the past week. Syrup pancakes, taco pancakes, burger pancakes, green bean pancakes. Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes.
I am the pancake king.
Now you know.
-Rob Gonzalez, Film Competition Director
Austin Film Festival serves to further the art and craft of storytelling. Our competitions are still running and we intend to continue connect storytellers to our audience and to the industry. Submit your script or film today! And don’t forget to tune into AFF At Home, where we bring AFF to you.