Today is World Bread Day. While it coincides with the United Nations’ World Food Day, it’s a much more lighthearted celebration. For the past seven years, 16 October has been the date that bloggers and other social medialites the world over have baked bread, and shared their experiences with their friends and followers.
A steaming, freshly baked bread must be one of the most basic culinary pleasures in life. When you’ve been away from fresh food for a few days, there are few things better than a thick slice of bread, hot out of the oven, generously spread with melting butter.
In a way it is fitting that World Bread Day falls on the same day as World Food Day, given the role of bread as a basic source of nutrition the world over. Bread is one of the oldest prepared foods, with evidence of bread-making dating back some 30 000 years. Earliest breads seem to have been a form of flat-bread made from starch extract from the roots of plants, while ‘modern’ grain-based bread appeared around 10 000 BC.
Considering it’s prevalence, bread plays an understandably important role in culture and religion. In Christian religion, bread is a symbol for the the body of Christ, while Jewish religion uses different types of bread for specific religious ceremonies and events. Bread is often equated to our general daily necessities (‘Give us this day our daily bread’, ‘putting bread on the table’). Around the 1950’s, ‘bread’ started to be used as a slang euphemism for money – a figure of speech that is now common the world over. Aligned with this comes terms like ‘bread-winner’ as the main income-provider in the family.
Bread is such an amazingly versatile food – once baked, it can be eaten warm or cold, or toasted. Eat it with dipping liquids like gravy, olive oil or soup; spread it with sweet or savoury toppings; stack it as a sandwich with your favourite fillings including meats, cheeses and more – the options are limited by your imagination only.
All this talk is making me peckish – I think I can do with a slice of toast with homemade marmelade!
Which leaves me with just one question: Whatever was the greatest thing before sliced bread?