read, in its various forms, is the most consumed food in the world. It is an important source of carbohydrates, and essential nutrients for the human body, and is compact and portable, which explains why bread is found in the diet of people from all over the world for thousands of years. But when, exactly, did the history of the bread begin? Some scientific research shows that man has consumed bread for at least 30,000 years.
The prehistoric man consumed a kind of porridge made from a mixture of grain and water. From there until baking this mixture was only one step. This is how the first bread was probably made: from an experiment. But from the first bread baked on hot stones to today’s sophisticated bread is a long way.
Bread evolution has undergone three important stages.
The fermentation process is what causes the bread to grow and become fluffy. Ancient unfermented bread, which is consumed in some parts of the world today, was flat, like Oriental pita, Indian naan or Central American tortilla.
Most likely, the first fermented bread was also an accident. This is how the man discovered that the fermentation process changes the texture of the dough, the result being a lighter and more aerated bread. Commercial yeast production, the most widespread dyeing agent, dates from around 300 BC, from ancient Egypt.
2. The refined flour
In prehistory, wheat was grounded by stone. This prehistoric flour resulted in raw bread from whole grains. A more sophisticated process of obtaining flour was thought of by the Mesopotamians around 800 BC. They were learning a new method of grinding. Thus appeared the mill, the basis of flour production nowadays. The resulting flour, whiter and finer, quickly became a symbol of higher status, and the desire to obtain the whitest and most refined bread continued until the modern era.
3. Mechanical slicing
For hundreds of years, the bread, whether it’s baguettes or ciabatta, was sold in large chunks to be cut at home. But in 1917, a jeweler named Otto Rohwedder created the first mechanical slicer of bread. Initially, the companies were convinced that the housewives would not be interested in buying bread already sliced, and Rohwedder’s car found its place in a bread factory only in 1928. The idea of selling bread already sliced proved to be a great success: in just two years, 90% of the bread sold in stores was sliced.
This evolution of the bread had led to the standard image of the modern world regarding the ideal bread: white, with a crunchy crust and a fluffy interior, cut into perfectly equal slices. In recent years, however, as specialists have shown that white bread is unhealthy (due to excessive grain refining), the consumption of whole-grain bread has spread significantly in Western societies.
Thus, if at the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, the rich ate white bread, and the poor black bread considered inferior, today the situation is exactly the opposite: the poor eat white bread, while the middle and upper class prefer the whole bread.