Bread: a bread-and-butter food – part 2

Italian bread tradition

Bread is a staple food in the Mediterranean cuisine, but it is also spread all over the world with some variations, depending on the type of flour and other available local ingredients. 

Nowadays, most bread in Europe is made of refined wheat flour. With the introduction of industrial bread production, whole wheat flour has been replaced by its impoverished version for conservation reasons. In fact, being all the proteins, oils and vitamins (that’s to say, all the elements that easily spoil) contained in the whole grain removed during the grinding process, refined white bread can last longer and meet – perhaps! – people’s needs to have a bread always fresh on their table.

Altamura Bread

Another change occurred when industrial production became preponderant. Back in the day, the sourdough made the dough rise very slowly, so time was an important factor in making bread. Yet, patience was rewarded with a natural, fragrant and very digestible bread. Today, yeast is more commonly used, since it allows to reduce rising time.

Bread in Italy

Italy is well-known to be a bread-eater country. You have to know that in most restaurants bread is not an extra-cost on your bill: this shows how bread is such a basic element of an Italian meal.

Indeed, Italy is homeland to as many different varieties of bread as at least the number of its regions. If you are on an Italian tour, you can’t leave without tasting some of them!

They are like dozens, and you won’t be able to taste all of them, but having the most famous is already a good start: Pitta in Calabria, Cafone in Campania, Filuni in Sicily, Pavullo in Emilia Romagna, Biga in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Michetta in Lombardy, Carasau in Sardinia, Roman ciriola in Lazio, and, last but not least, pane di Altamura in Puglia.

World Bread Day '07 Nachlese #2 - Pane di Altamura

Altamura's bread, a PDO product in 2003

Altamura’s bread is very famous for being the first one in Europe to be identified as a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product in 2003. It is produced in Altamura (in the province of Bari) and characterized by a tough crust and a soft, pale-yellow crumb rich in large and regular alveoli (holes in the crumb), derived from a mix of different varieties of durum wheat flours, sea salt, water, sourdough and a long, long rising! It is then baked in wood or stone oven.

If you pass through here, make a flying visit to Altamura’s Bread Feast in June, where you can visit the old ovens, take part in the workshops and taste all the traditional local dishes! 

sole di semola

Sources - Pane - Pane di Altamura
All images released under Creative Commons license.

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