A Ciabatta Challenge

I enjoy a challenge almost as much as I enjoy bread.  To this end I decided to try myself with a bread based challenge.  Ciabatta is Italy’s answer to the French baguette and both are among my favourite breads.  I have spend a lot of time trying for the worlds best baguette, and although I may never achieve the perfection I seek, I am satisfied that it is at least very good.  Ciabatta, however, I have never tried.  In fact I don’t even have a recipe on hand.  I don’t know if I’ve even properly seen a recipe, so it could be said I have no clue as to how to make it.  Bread is complex enough that simply trying a new recipe for the first tome could be considered a challenge, but I feel like taking it a step further.  I’m going to try to recreate ciabatta from scratch, without consulting any recipes, based on my own bread knowledge alone. Continue reading

Guarded Statements

There’s something that’s been bothering me about historical fencing for a while.  I’ve been having a lot of problems with the term “guard.”  In theory a guard is any position your body and sword take to defend yourself.  There are complexities within that definition and some people have their own different definitions.  For example, one interpreter of the medieval I.33 system stated that there were no guards present in the style, because you were never supposed to stand stationary to protect yourself in any particular position.  One of my own instructors once made the ridiculous claim that any position you can hold your sword in is a guard, but it is only a “good guard” if it serves to protect you.  Ignoring the fact that if every position is a guard then the entire concept of guard becomes useless, some refining to the term is clearly needed. Continue reading