Location: Soil Management Research
Title: Breads of Native cultures Author
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 16, 2014
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The sight and scent of a freshly baked loaf of bread has the romantic appeal that transcends all other culinary achievements of mankind! Bread, whether made of the flour of wheat, barley, rye, oats, millet, maize, sorghum, or rice, is a food enjoyed by people in all parts of the world. The virtually infinite combinations of different flours, and differing proportions of a few ingredients resulted in the wide variety of types, shapes, colors, sizes, flavors, and textures of bread as varied as the people who eat it. In many cultures, bread is a symbol of the basic necessities of life! Whether it is leavened or flat, made into round or elongated loaves, baked, steamed or fried, bread is universal. Whatever the grain, bread occupied an important place in every civilization, old and new. Made from flour, water, salt, yeast, and sometimes a few additives, wheat bread has exceptional nutritional value, and as the only nearly perfect product for human nourishment, can be consumed by itself. The protein quantity and quality of wheat flour makes it unique among cereal grains for bread making; the gluten makes it possible for the bread to have its unique texture, nutritional value and flavor. Some ten to twelve thousand years ago, upon the domestication of wheat and other cereals in the Old World and some five thousand years later after the domestication of maize in the New World cereal grains became the foundation of making different kinds of bread. The art of bread making from wheat flour travelled with the spread of agriculture from ancient Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley to Greece and Rome, and from there to Europe and beyond. Bread has significance beyond mere nutrition in many cultures around the world, especially in the Middle East and Europe, because of its history and contemporary importance. Bread is an object of belief and superstition in many ancient cultures in the Old as well as the New World. Many of these ancient beliefs continue into the present time. A symbolic foodstuff international in scope, bread is the quintessential human food. Its history underlies a large part of the history of the human race, the simplest perhaps in the history of everyday life and eating. It connects people to culture, to tradition, and sometimes to religion. For centuries bread has been a formidable political and economic weapon; those in power have always kept a watchful eye on its availability. The social significance of bread can be traced back to ancient Rome, where Emperors were obliged to offer free bread to the masses. The present-day bread subsidies in many developing countries are but a tool of social stability. The story of the "Breads of Native Cultures" is the story of the hard work of farmers, millers and bakers who learned to see in bread an instrument of community between humans.