If you had bread for breakfast today, a slice of toast, or perhaps a croissant, you are certainly not alone. No matter where you travel, you will probably find a culture that has its own type of bread.
The story of bread goes back a long way – in fact, about 10,000 years. However, they discovered that they could use rocks to crush the hard grains from some plants, which we know today as wheat, to make a rough powder, or flour. They mixed the flour with water, put the mixture on flat stones and waited for the bread to bake.
These first breads were hard and flat and they probably didn't taste very nice, but gradually, the recipe for bread improved. The ancient Egyptians, for example, discovered how to make fermented dough: they added ingredients to make the mixture rise, so that it became lighter and tasted better. In the same way, different cultures developed their own recipes, using local ingredients and suiting it to their traditions.
The technology for baking bread also improved. The first ovens were made of clay and a wood fire burned inside them. By the time the oven had cooled, the bread was baked. At first, bread was made in people's homes. Then, in the Middle Ages, people started to take their bread mixtures to local bakeries to be baked. These bakeries had large brick ovens which were heated by wood or coal. Today, of course, most of the world's bread is baked in large factories and is then transported to where it is sold.
Most people can easily go to a supermarket or a baker's shop to buy bread when they need it. In France in the 18th century, for example, there was very little bread in the shops and its price was high. Angry people rioted in the streets and Marie Antoinette famously said, ‘Let them eat cake.' Bread is an emotional issue. It's mentioned in ancient books, prayers, and proverbs of many different cultures. In many places it's seen as one of the most important foods, and is central to many cultures in ways that other foods are not.
A. However, when things go wrong, it's often bread that disappears first.
B. People didn't grow food then, but went out in the grasslands to look for plants and grains that they could eat.
C. Bread is one of the most widely eaten foods in the world and it comes in an incredible range of shapes and sizes.
D. In some countries, bread was considered a greater luxury than the most expensive meat.
E. The ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, baked flat bread and often flavoured it with herbs and spices.
F. The bread mixture was placed inside these and then the opening was closed.