Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Pass the Bread, Please

Oooooh, I'm drooling over the memory of Mom's fresh bread baking in the oven.  When the bread was still warm, she'd slice it and let us smear on the butter and honey.  One loaf didn't last long at our house.

Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods.  It all started when man first mixed water with grain and created a better-tasting porridge.  Somewhere along the line man figured out that baking the porridge on hot stones in a fire tasted better yet.  Around the year 3000 B.C.E., the closed brick or clay oven made possible the baking of different types of breads.  The ancient Egyptians were the first to jazz up the process with yeast to leaven their bread.

The ancient Greeks came up with a variety of doughs and ways of shaping the loaves, which actually turned bread-making into an art. The Romans came up with the idea of grinding grain by rubbing it between two stones.  They invented white bread by sifting the grains through linen, which raised the price of bread.  The poor people then ate dark whole-grain bread, and the wealthy ate the specially-sifted white bread.  Knowing what we know today, the wealthy were chowing down the bread with the least essential nutrients, while the poor were getting all the nutrition.

Today we have an abundant choice of white breads, dark breads, crusty breads, the bagels, baguettes, biscuits, bread stix, buns, croissants, English muffins, French breads, Irish soda breads, nut breads, pitas, pretzels, rolls, sour dough breads, tortillas, and wraps.  It seems most cultures claim a signature bread to pass around the global table.

The next time I open the cupboard and see that partial loaf of bread, or the leftover buns, I'm gonna whisper a thank you to Our Creator for providing us with the physical, and the spiritual, nutrition needed to make it through the challenges of our days.  We Christians use bread in the Eucharistic ritual, but we can also have our private ceremonies in our kitchens when we make a sandwich or slather butter on a roll.  Bread sustains us in more ways than one.  We can show our gratitude in more ways than one.