Lesson Plan - Get It!
- you rise
- from flour,
- and fire.
- Dense or light,
- flattened or round...
- How simple
- you are, bread,
- and how profound!"
~ from Pablo Neruda's Ode to Bread
- What comes to mind when you think of bread?
If you're living in the United States, you might think of massively produced spongy, sliced loaf bread packaged in plastic bags. But bread is much more than that.
- Have you ever tried making bread?
Freshly baked artisanal bread, with its aroma, texture, and flavor, is a completely different experience and is as diverse as the world in which we live.
History of Bread
Bread is the most widely consumed food in the world and has been a staple of humanity for its entire existence.
Our earliest ancestors started grinding grain and water together using a mortar and pestle. Then, they cooked this gruel over hot rocks, producing the very first flatbread.
With the introduction of the first mills in 800 BC Mesopotamia, grains could be refined to create flour. Around 300 BC, yeast was added to the mix in Ancient Egypt, producing the first lighter or leavened bread.
Bread has continued to evolve, taking on different shapes, forms, and preparations worldwide.
Travel the world in this lesson to see how bread is prepared and consumed today. First, visit the world's second-largest continent, which is....you guessed it, Africa!
Ethiopia and Eritrea
These neighboring countries in Eastern Africa are the home of injera, a flatbread made from teff flour.
The teff grain is tiny, measuring just 1/100 of wheat grain, and is cultivated only in these countries. Teff is a gluten-free grain much richer in iron than wheat or barley.
Watch the video below to see it made.
- How cool is it that the injera is used like a utensil for eating stews?
No need for forks and spoons!
Now, head north to Tajikistan, a mountainous, landlocked country in Central Asia.
Non is baked in a clay oven called a Tanur.
Non is an essential part of the Tajik diet and is served at almost every meal. Legend says that non should not be put upside down. Otherwise, it will bring bad luck.
Watch how it is baked in the following video.
Next, visit a long, narrow country in South America.
Chile is among the top bread consumers in the world, with the average person consuming 200 pounds of bread per year. (Only Germany beats Chile with bread consumption.)
Popular breads include marraquetas, hallullas, and pan amasado, all of which can be bought commercially today.
However, a unique form of bread can be found in the Chilean countryside called the tortilla de rescoldo. This bread can be traced back to the Spanish colonists, who could easily make it in the ashes of a campfire rather than relying on an oven.
To see how this smoky bread is prepared, watch this next video.
For the last stop on today's journey, head to Europe to learn about a bread that's probably a bit more familiar to you...called the baguette.
The Arc de Triomphe, Tour Eiffel, and the baguette are all symbols of Paris, France.
- What do you think the word baguette means?
It means wand, baton, or stick, and it refers to the shape of the bread.
No one knows the history of the crispy baguette. Still, it became widely popular in the early 19th century after introducing Hungarian milled flour and Viennese steam oven baking.
Today, boulangeries (bakeries) can be found on every street corner, and the baguette remains an essential accompaniment to every French meal.
Watch the video below on the best baguette in Paris.
Board the plane one last time to head back home and test your knowledge in the Got It? section!