Let’s Get This Bread: Spotlight on Evelyn Zhang

If you had attended the annual TEDxYouth@SAS event that took place on January 17th (and even though this was a few months ago), the word “Carbo-phobia” would probably ring a bell somewhere in your head– not because it’s a rather long and difficult word to pronounce, but because an extremely insightful speech was given with this vocabulary.

The spotlight behind the message of Carbophobia belongs to one of this year’s TEDxYouth@SAS speakers, junior Evelyn Zhang. Comprised of six inspirational speakers, the annual event presented its theme of Turning Tides.

These six speakers worked countless number of hours to develop their speeches to present at the annual TEDxYouth@SAS event.

Back in October when TEDxYouth@SAS announced its application for speakers, Evelyn immediately decided to audition with the idea of “carbophobia”. And ever since her acceptance as a speaker to the event, Evelyn Zhang had been working alongside curators to experiment with different ideas and eventually deliver the essence of “turning tides”with a look into society’s view of carbohydrates–especially bread–to her audience.

But think about it for a second:  Bread.

A speech about bread?

Bread is an important diet in our lives, but many have began to follow the anti-carb movement. Photo credits: Google Images

To many, the word “bread” is a mundane word: it’s like a filler word simply carrying air. For Evelyn Zhang, however, it’s different. Bread is the word that has helped her realize the type of society we live in today; it’s a word that evokes a feeling of “holding life on the palm of her hands”. Such a word didn’t have an impact on Evelyn since the start though, for Evelyn was just like everyone else who simply accepted what her surrounding people and mainstream media told her about the “mistake in bread”.

So, how was Evelyn able to take such a mundane topic and connect it with the pressing issues in the world today to spark an uplifting discussion?

It all started when Evelyn began making sourdough herself.  In the summer of 2017, Evelyn independently handmade her own sourdough with a sourdough starter, natural leavener, and a live microbiome.  When asked how she attained the chance to do so, she answered, “my mom pretty much suggested it out of the blue and I decided to give it a try… never did I imagine it would develop into my passion.”

Soon after, she began to observe the uniqueness of each sourdough loaf: “each of them rose differently every time [she] fed it, every time [she] kneaded it through [her] hands.” After all, making sourdough herself was just like having the “palm of life in her hands.”

The process of making sourdough. Photo credits: Green Gourmet Giraffe

The process of making sourdough was especially difficult as a lot of effort and caution had to be put into it. The painstaking but enjoyable process included: mixing the flour, kneading it, observing the rise of each dough, portioning it evenly, and baking it until the golden-brown crust is formed and the loaves are hollow.

As soon as she began to make her own sourdough, she realized something essential– something that helped her reflect on the anti-carb movements relevant in society today. In midst of a carbophobic world, she began to encounter an epiphany, to discern the real value of bread, to start asking herself the reason for the rise of prejudices about bread.

The “no carbs” diet has been an ongoing trend due to public views.

Indeed, that’s when she began to dig into the sentiments lying behind bread. She stated, “what I realized was quite funny though, because bread is actually the foundation of our civilization today. And now, we just forget about bread’s history and let snap judgements pervade our society.” Eager to wash the prejudice of bread out of people’s minds, Evelyn has turned tides to address the importance of bread in our lives and the mistake in the anti-carb movement. As a final remark, Evelyn claimed, “bread really taught me to think rationally about other things in life– good qualities come with patience– just like how patience is required to self make sourdough and discern the true value of it.

“Bread is the word that has helped [me] realize the type of society we live in today; it’s a word that evokes a feeling of “holding life on the palm of her hands”. – Evelyn Zhang

So the next time you see bread, don’t give it a cold shoulder. Instead, take a step back and picture the whole process of making the sourdough before tossing the food into the “unhealthy and fattening” category. And finally, ask yourself: “How does that change my perspective of bread?”


Author: Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee is currently a junior, and this is her first year as a reporter for The Eye. This is her sixth year studying in Singapore American School, and despite coming from a Korean, American, and Hong Kong background, she considers Singapore her home. In her free time, she loves to indulge in bubble tea and consume food from all kinds of cuisine. In addition, she finds happiness in travelling around the globe and exposing herself to different cultures. She can be contacted at lee45288@sas.edu.sg.

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