By Greg Zompolis
Often referred to as “the staff of life”, evidence of bread making has been discovered in prehistoric excavations. There is documented proof in hieroglyphic drawings dating back 4,000 years ago that ancient Egyptians were well versed in baking bread. A charred but intact round loaf of bread was found in a bakery’s oven in Pompeii where Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.
Marie Antoinette’s famous quote “Let them eat cake” which she supposedly uttered when the peasant community was in a an uproar and had no bread continues to define her centuries later. Apparently she said “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, literally translates to “Then they should eat brioche” which is a type of bread/cake hybrid. Apparently, the bread famine led to the French revolution, which toppled the monarchy.
There are as many kinds of bread as imagination can allow. It was not common for American housewives to bake their own bread. A quick trip to the local supermarket or bakery would provide an array of breads. The most popular in the mid-20th century was white bread. Not exactly the healthiest choice, so the bread aisle has now expanded to include all sorts of healthier choices, including certified organic bread.
Of local interest is San Francisco’s sourdough bread. With a thick brown crust and delightfully soft white interior, it is still immensely popular and de riguer for the tourists to have some as part of the total San Francisco experience.
In the mid-1990’s bread making machines became all the rage. Easy to use, you could bake your own loaves right on your kitchen counter. Real estate salespeople frequently used the machines as a ruse to stage homes. It has been said that our olfactory sense brings back the strongest memories. The fad eventually faded and the machines have been relegated to the back of the kitchen cabinets.
As the Persian poet Omar Khayyam once stated a millineum ago that his idea of a perfect time was to have “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and Thou” still holds true today.
Greg Zompolis is a freelance author of four books and numerous magazine, newspaper and Web articles. He has traveled to all fifty states and forty two countries. Aside from travel, he is interests include Architecture and American cars of the 1950’s and 60’s. He is a sixth generation Californian.