Bread: a bread-and-butter food – part 1

The most ancient food in the world.

Despite thousands revolutions in cooking and the arrival of many new types of food throughout the human history, bread still keeps a primary place in man’s nutrition. 

Bread in the beginning

They say that homo erectus already made bread by cooking a dough made from a mix of flour, obtained by grinding cereals between stones, and water on a scorching stone. Then, Egyptians found out fermentation simply leaving the dough stand one day. By cooking this dough the following day, they discovered that the result was a softer and more fragrant bread. After them, Greeks became very skilled in bread making: they began adding other ingredients such as milk, oil, honey, cheese and herbs and were the first ones to make bread at night.

Bread #2

Mainly made of wheat flour, bread is nonetheless eaten in many versions all over the world. In northern Europe for example, rye bread is common since this type of cereal resists more than wheat to cold winters. In America, before the introduction of wheat by Europeans, corn was diffusely used, as well as rice in southeast Asia, Japan and India and millet and sesame in Africa. Basically, they employed that cereal which found the best growth conditions in their country. Another version is the unleavened bread that Jews eat to commemorate the Exodus.

Bread and the ancient Rome

Bread made of cereals flour, water and leaven was a staple food for Romans too. It was diffusely eaten during breakfast and lunch since the 2nd century B.C.E. Panis clibanicus could be baked in the oven or in special containers, and the most typical Roman one was made of spelt flour, as it was the most widely cultivated cereal in those days.  

Firstly homemade, later made within bakeries equipped with oven and mill, there were 3 types of bread: the black one, eaten by poor people, the white one made of a coarse-grained flour and another white one but of a very refined flour, more digestible and, therefore, a “deluxe” version for richest people.

Moreover, Romans had a wide choice of bread. Just to name a few, there was:

  • the siligeneus, a white variety made from soft wheat flour; 
  • the furfureus, made of bran; the Alessandria bread, cooked on spits; 
  • the buccelatus and the particus, of the same consistency of a biscuit the former and of a sponge the latter. And finally...
  • the piceno, cooked in an earthenware pot that Romans used to break in front of the dining companion. be continued...

Cara's Homemade Soda Bread

Sources - La Cucina nell’antica Roma - Pane

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