Bread & Humanity

Bread and Humanity

Bread, in all its various forms, is the most widely consumed food in the world. Not only is it an important source of carbohydrates, it’s also portable and compact, which helps to explain why it has been an integral part of diet for thousands of years.

In the Rwandan traditional meal, bread was largely unknown. Just like in many parts of Africa, a typical Rwandan meal is potatoes, beans, and ugali. Breakfast for many in Rwanda is something that was never given much importance.

But, again, bread is everywhere: in our narratives, stories, cultures, and histories.

When TWB first began work in Rwanda, people were asking “What is this, how can you make a bread from carrot or banana?” However, the more our breads are found on the market and people continue to try them, the better they understand how good and nutritive they are.

For those who read the Bible, a common story is about when the Israelites left Egypt to go to Canaan. On their way, they got hungry and asked Moses what to eat. Moses asked God for food. God gave them “manna.” When they saw the manna for the first time, they asked, “What is this?” Eventually, they learned that manna could provide them all the sustenance they needed. Bread was the answer.

The first incidence of bread is assumed to be over 6,000 years ago in Egypt, when naturally occurring yeast accidently mixed with porridge and it rose. At The Women’s Bakery, we think this might have been the best accident ever.

Considering the ancient tradition of bread, it’s important to understand the tradition of how humanity first used the basic ingredients to create a delicious, sustaining, pervasive product-- bread.

A great resource for understanding the history and influences of bread is through a series called “Cooked” on Netflix. For the episode titled “Air” author and food expert, Michael Pollan outlines the intricacies and secrets of bread. You can learn more about this documentary here.

Fun facts abound, like how there are 550 million acres of wheat planted around the world, or alternatively, how bread is sacred in some cultures. In Morocco, for example, it is taboo to cut bread with a knife because it’s considered “too violent.” 

Leavening, refined flour, and mechanized slicing helped develop the bread product further as the world has both increased in civilization and mechanized in various parts of the globe. Without leavening, bread is simply flatbread and remains the first iteration of bread to occur: think pitas or tortillas. Grains (to make flour) were originally grounded by rocks, refined in 800 BC by Mesopotamians, using two circular stones stacked on one another: think milling. Slicing used to occur within the home, but around the world, ciabatta and French breads are now pre-sliced– to accompany a warm cup of coffee or tea.

You can get sliced bread in Rwanda now, too. With coffee, or tea, per your liking. Visit us in Remera, Ndera, or Bumba to get a taste. You won’t be sorry. Bread is essential, delicious, and innate to our humanity.

Woah, that’s real #breadpower.

#eatbreadwithtwb #visitus #womensbakery