People sometimes laugh at how excited I get when I talk about bread but for me it's a passion. The smell of bread baking in the oven makes me feel content, the feel of dough beneath my hands relaxes me, and that first bite – the crunch, followed by the soft, resilient texture – there's nothing like it. When I was visiting my family this past December my father told me that my great-grandfather was a baker who owned bakery in Salinas, California. Then he went into the back room and emerged with a decades old photograph of this man, whose life was bread and whose blood ran through my veins. I must confess that a romantic part of me wondered whether there was such a thing as a "baking gene," and whether it was possible that my way with dough was somehow connected to this man I'd never met.