YOUNG WORLD

Staff of life

TANUSHREE PODDER

Staff of life

It is necessary for our survival, we do everything in order to earn it and it has been the reason for many wars — Bread. Historians believe that Egyptians learned to make yeast bread around 2600 BC. The ancient Greeks learned bread making from Egyptians and later taught the method to the Romans. And then it was but a matter of time before the technique spread to Europe. In the Middle Ages, most European cities had bakeries.

For more than a century, people ate whole grain wheat bread because the refined flour was expensive. But by 1900 they switched to making bread from the refined flour. Bread is the most commonly eaten food in most parts of the world. Some people make it from wheat, while others make it from rice, maize, corn or rye. It is usually baked in the oven, but certain breads of North Africa are cooked in oil, in an earthenware vessel. The Chinese steam their bread, which is often made from rye. Germany produces many types of rolls, including pretzels, which are salted and flavoured with cumin or poppy seeds. A popular kind, known as German Black Bread, is made from a mixture of rye and corn. People in Central America eat various forms of corn meal flat breads called tortillas. The Far East offers a number of varieties of flat bread made from rice flour, while the Middle East has Pita bread which is made from durum wheat.

In Mediterranean countries, loaves are often made from compact white dough, sometimes kneaded with oil. The Algerian breads are oval in shape with pointed ends while the Tunisian breads are flat and round.

And in India we have rotis, naan, the tandoori roti, the kulcha and chapatti.

In the U.S. and U.K., bread is usually sold in the form of tin or sandwich loaves, which have a dense white crumb and a very thin crust. The yellow corn bread, made from cornmeal is an American speciality. The Russians, on the other hand, like round rye loaves with a compact brown crumb, so typical of Eastern Countries. The Swiss indulge in different kinds of bread and their breakfast platter is full of various shapes and sizes of bread.

European countries have taken bread making to a new height, with different types of varieties emerging each day. Whatever be the kind of bread that people eat, the fact remains that it is the most essential element in most diets and is likely to rule the dining table for many centuries to come.

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