Where Did My Family Originate

where did my family originate

Give Me My Daily Bread

Children ask some interesting questions that can challenge our knowledge. I guess the great thing about this is that we learn too and with the Internet now readily available we are able to research a topic is quite easily.

So the questions today as we were having breakfast (toast) was where did bread come from and who made up the recipe?

This question was not one I could answer straight away and so off to the computer I went. This is put together to share my findings and I hope you find it interesting.

As the main ingredient being wheat we started here – and it is a long way back as wheat has been cultivated by man since before recorded history. Anthropologists think humans first stockpiled the grain as a storable food source. When it got wet, it sprouted, and people found that if the grain was planted it yielded yet more seeds.

First grown in Mesopotamia and Egypt wheat was likely first just chewed. It was later discovered that it could be pulverized and made into a paste. Cooked over a fire the paste baked into what we refer to as flat bread which kept for several days. Leavened or raised bread was discovered when someone accidently introduced yeast to the paste.

At around 1000 BC, inquiring minds isolated yeast and were able to introduce the culture directly to their breads. A new strain of wheat was developed that allowed for refined white bread. This was really the first modern bread.

It was also during this time that they started to discover other types of bread making or recipes.

People found that they could save a piece of dough from a batch of bread to put into the next day’s dough. This was the begining of sour-dough, a process still used today.

The Greeks picked up the technology for baking bread from the Egyptians and the practice spread over the rest of Europe. Bread and wheat were very important in Rome where it was thought more vital than meat.

Soldiers felt slighted if they were not given their allocation of bread – a term now referred to by many churches and included in the Lords Prayer “give us our daily bread”. The meaning today is about giving us more sustenance but it is easy to see where this term came from.

Bread is also a term that the English use to mean money. The “bread winner” is a person who earns the money. Also the term “bread and butter” is used meaning the basic things.

The Roman welfare state was based on the distribution of grain to people living in Rome and later the governors of the time even baked the bread. This was a way of exerting more control over the people as they became reliant on the rulers. It was one of the few foods that sustained the poor through hard times and still does today.

During the French Revolution of 1788 -89 there were “bread riots” – that is riots caused by the high bread prices and subsequent risk of starvation. The average French household would consume two loaves of bread per week as their staple diet but due to weather conditions and a bad wheat harvest the price of bread escalated by 67% in 1789 alone.

Bread has a long history for this reason. It can be a healthy food that fills the stomach as well as the soul.

Through much of history a person’s social status could be discerned by the color of bread they consumed. The darker the bread, the lower the social status. This was due to the whiter flours being more expensive and harder for millers to adulterate with other products. We have seen a reversal of this trend when darker breads and those with whole grains are more expensive. I think my children would quite happily consume white bread and toast but I prefer mine to be a wholegrain variety. Maybe it is because I perceive these breads to be better for me – more nutritional to promote Good Health and Wellbeing.

More recently the manufactures of bread (rather than bakers) have adopted methods to speed up the bread making process by using chemical additives to reduce fermentation time and extend the shelf life of the bread. This enables them to produce larger quantities and give them time to get the product to the supermarket shelves.

The baker was once deemed a low class worker. Now we seek out quality produce and bread is no exception. We like to know that our baker is using quality ingredients and are willing to pay for better bread.

Bread making machines are now commonplace in many households and allow us to make our own fresh breads and using quality ingredients which suit our dietary needs. Over recent years the cost of these machines has come down so they are now an affordable option and the functionality has got a lot better too.

We use a Breadman bread maker which I think is the most popular in America today and I can see why. It is pretty easy to use (I can operate it perfectly) and the breads it produces are great. I’m know there are a number of other good brands available but when it comes time to replace ours we would not hesitate to buy a Breadman.

It was hard to give my children an immediate answer and I couldn’t even define who made up the recipe; however we all now know a lot more about the history of bread.


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