From Miriam Webster:

‘Companion’ comes from ‘panis’, the Latin word for bread. Originally, the word was used to describe someone with whom you shared a meal.

The com- in companion means “with.” The second part comes from panis, the Latin word for bread or food.

I remember sitting in my bread making class at the California Culinary Academy and hearing this description. It was a seminal moment for me in my food career. As we all do, sharing a meal with someone, breaking bread together, is generally a time when we come together to share stories, enjoy good food, sometimes laugh and sometimes cry . . . together.

When I was seven years old I made a pronouncement at the dinner table. I will tell you now, it brought down the house. Not literally of course but laughter and hilarity ensued because of it. You see, in school I had been learning new words, how to spell, and how to pronounce them. I remember the whole your and you’re, here and hear, and the there, their, they’re debate. Another one, was words that are closely spelled alike and are sometimes part of each other but with different meanings. On this day I had just learned the word Habit and Habitat. You can see and hear right away habit is part of habitat. But as we all know their definitions run in two different directions, unless you are a seven year old jest beginning to master complex thought. Follow me here.

Miriam Webster: Definition of habit

1: a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior

// her habit of taking a morning walk

2a: an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary

// got up early from force of habit

And: Definition of habitat

1 b: the typical place of residence of a person or a group

// the arctic habitat of the Inuit

2: the place where something is commonly found

So here I am, sitting at the dinner table with my family, my habitat, eating dinner together, which was out habit. Mix that with the adrenaline and dopamine surge that occurred when I was finally able to dig in to, and get my first bite of, tuna casserole. Then out of the proverbial mouths of babes came,

“Food is my habitat!”

To this day it still is. I have spent the majority of my career working in the hospitality industry. Either preparing food, serving it, or both. I would much rather spend time with friends sharing a meal as companions than do most anything else. As my waistline will prove. No let us get back to the word companion. Hearing this in school change the way I viewed, well, almost everything. I think of a company of people – those who share bread. Armies have companies of soldiers. In the past I have worked for companies.  I am often found in the company of friends and sometimes strangers.  I enjoy the company of my dearest companions whenever possible. Except for those rare times when I need to nurse a hot tea and keep my own company – oops! – there I go again.

The really cool thing for me is that this word, this feeling, this open expression of community is all centered around bread. Bread, as I have been told, and have come to believe, is the staff of life. When one considers the vast and varied cultures that exist on our planet it was somewhat of a revelation for me to learn that almost every culture has some form of bread: The staff of life.

Well life has dealt a hard blow to one of our own this month. A friend of all of us, literally our companion, has been taken ill. Chiara Adorno, owner and operator of Tenderfork Market, maker and baker of the best bread in Vallejo is in the hospital and will be for some time. Many of you know her from the Farmer’s Market where she can be found peddling her wares. Some of you may not know that Chiara’s habit is to get up every day and go to her work habitat, to bake bread and keep her company going. She is the sole owner and employee of her company who has been working diligently to learn her craft, ply her trade in addition to planning for its growth. We few, we lucky few, we band of brothers (and sisters) {double points to anyone who get that reference} have had the joy of eating her bread almost every day. If you have never had one of her chocolate boules then, my friend, you have yet to live. She focuses on uncommon grains and has developed a slow rise technique that adds a delicate complexity to her products. Chiara will be in the hospital for at least a month more and even when she is released will need time to recover before she can begin producing again.

Friends, one of our company is in need of our help. A woman who works hard kneading our community together with every loaf she touches. She is an artist, craftsman and business woman. She has brought us daily: The Staff of Life. Please consider taking a few moments to go to her GoFundMe Page and giving. For Chiara, right now, even a few dollars will be the stuff of life.

Please follow my Facebook page The V-Town Social Club and don’t forget to stop in my website http://www.the-v-town-social-club.com

Until next time,


Eat Well and Smile Often






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