The old saying ‘Bread is the Staff of Life’ can be interpreted in many ways, but the most common one is that ‘who can live without bread?’ For centuries, bread has been the mainstay of most of the diets of the world. Evem when you sit down in a restaurant, usually the first thing that happens is that a basket of bread is brought for you. The first known bread can be traced back to ancient Egypt, in approximately the 20th Century BC. The Greeks, who were probably the world’s first great cooks, were famous for their bread.
One can go to almost any country and find bread. Bread can be particular to the region or the culture where it was developed. Even the Asian countries, where bread as Westerners know it, is not the norm, have their own form of starchy items which would be equivalent to bread as we know it. Listed below are some of the types of bread and the cultures by which they were developed. Most or all of these breads can be had in the United States today, allowing us to have a great variety of this wonderful product.
Matzos – Ancient Israelites
Matzoh is an unleavened bread which is all that is allowed during Passover to commerorate the deliverance of the Israelites from the tyranny of Egyptian Rulers. There was no time to make leavened bread during their travels, so unleavened bread was made instead. Today, it is sold all year round and even comes in different flavors including Egg and Onion.
Flat Breads – Middle East and India
There are numerous types of flat bread. One of the more widely known is Nam from India, but most of the Middle Eastern Countries have their own version.
Asian Countries – Wrappers for Eggs Rolls & Dumplings
China – bread is not common to Chinese cuisine, however Bao may be the exception. Bao are usually steamed although they can be baked. The soft dough is made with cake flour which gives it is soft texture. They are usually filled with meat or a sweet bean mixture. The photo below is of Cha Siu Bao (barbecued pork) after they have been steamed. These have been rolled and cut like a jelly roll. Most Bao dumplings are usually cut into circles and then brought up and pinched at the top. They are usually served with a dipping sauce or Hoisin Sauce.
Egg Roll Wrappers– these are used for Wonton, Egg Rolls and Pot Stickers
Rye & Pumpernickel – Eastern Europe
Brioche & French Bread – France
Brioche is a type of Egg Bread. It is very rich with lots of Eggs and Butter and some Sugar. Another type of Egg Bread is Challah which contains Eggs and Butter and is a delicious tasting bread that is on the lighter side. It makes great French Toast when sliced thick and allowed to dry out before making the French Toast. Brioche are usually small items made in muffin cups with top knots. The picture below is of Apple Brioche. Brioche taste best when well baked, hence the dark looking color. These are rich and tasty. For a photo of Tomato Egg Bread please see the Tomato Odessy – ‘Tomato Bread’. http://sylveeeskitchen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Tomato-Bread-021.jpg
French Bread – the bread typically thought of as French even though in France there are many different types of bread. It is known that the French like their bread fresh and usually purchase it every day. One of the reasons is that the typical French Bread is made only with Flour, Yeast, Sugar, Salt and Water. It is best when eaten fresh and dries out easily. The Baguettes pictured here are a narrow version of French Bread and are delicious when eaten soon out of the oven.
Pizza – Greece (Originally – More popularly thought of as strictly Italian)
Pizza was first made in the Greek Isles. It is thought to have derived it name from the Greek word Picea. Picea is an adjective that describes the black coating left on the bottom of dough by the burning ashes which were used in ancient ovens. The first pizzas were probably baked in wood burning stoves and may well have been black on the bottom from the ashes.
Pita Bread or Pocket Bread – Originally from the Middle East but made it’s way to Greece and is more popularly thought of as a Greek Product.
Tortillas – Indians of North America
Tortillas are a flat bread originally made from masa which is ground corn. Corn Tortillas are typically used to make Tacos and Tostadas and are also used as an eaitng implement to sccop up beans and other foodstuffs.
With the introduction of wheat tortillas are also made from flour. The picture below is of stacked Shrimp Quesadillas made with masa de harina which is wheat flour. Quesadillas are usually folded like a turnover. The stacked quesadilla is a variation thereof. Flour Tortillas are also used to make Burrittos, Flautas and Bunuelos, a Cinnamon flavored snack food.
Corn Bread The Americas
Soda Bread Ireland
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November 3rd is ‘National Sandwich Day’. The Sandwich is a very popular and almost necessary food here in the United States. Its creation is usually credited to the ‘Earl of Sandwich’, John Montague. It is said that the Earl loved gambling so much so that he did not want to stop playing and that he requested the servers to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread. Thus, the ‘Sandwich’ was born. Whether or not this is true, the legend lives on and the Sandwich itself has grown to mamoth proportions. Not necessarily in size, but certainly in variety.
Undoubtedly, the most popular sandwich in America today is the Hamburger. The history of the Hamburger is in itself another story. Our sandwiches can range from the humble Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich to the lately popular Panini which needs a special iron to be made. There are Breakfast Sandwiches consisting of Eggs and Bacon or Eggs, Sausage and Cheese. There are Cheese Sandwiches, Roast Beef Sandwiches, etc., etc.
The all popular deli sandwich from New York which has made its way completely across the country and then some would be a Hot Corned Beef or Pastrami Sandwich, consisting of so much meet on two slices of rye or inside a roll that it would actually feed two or more people. One could go on and on about sandwiches; the list is never-ending. Listed below are some popular sandwich fillings, their spreads and toppings.
FILLING: SPREAD: TOPPINGS:
Roast Beef Mayo & Mustard Lettuce & Tomatoes, Pickles
Ham Mayo & Mustard Cheese
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Cream Cheese & Lox
Egg & Bacon Mayo Tomato
Corned Beef Mustard Cole Slaw
Pastrami Mustard Swiss Cheese
Liverwurst Mayo Sliced Onion
Burgers Thousand Island Tomato & Lettuce
Cheeseburger Thousand Island Lettuce & Tomato, Onion
Grilled Cheese Butter (Jelly in some parts)
Tuna Salad Mayo Pickels & Lettuce
On and On we can go with no stopping in sight. What is your favorite sandwich? Or does it vary with the time of day and year? My all-Time favorite Sandwich is Lox and Cream Cheese on a Water Bagel. (From Western Bagel -no New York Bagels for me)
My next favorite sandwich would beRARE Roast Beefwith Mayo & Mustard and Lettuce, Tomato and Pickles. I also love good Cole Slaw with my sandwiches and Potato Chips with some.
Sandwiches can be made big or small, dainty or hearty. The dainty variety are usually Finger Sandwiches which are sometimes served for ‘Tea’ or for Bridal or Baby Showers.
Whichever way they are made or whichever is your favorite, the Sandwich is certainly here to stay as it affords a convenient and tasty way to eat. They are especially good in lunch boxes and on picnics.
So enjoy a Sandwich today on ‘National Sandwich Day’.