bread humor, clan behavior, damper, experimenting with food, finding new foods, grains, hunting with a stick, injera, lefse, natural food, nomadic history, open fire baking, pre-agricultural life, pre-historic man, rice, rye, steamed buns, teff, wheat, where bread comes from, wild grown food
I was thinking one day about how people around the world have been making bread for thousands of years. Millions and billions of people, century after century, all making bread! If you compared them side by side, the breads would look very differently from one another–China’s steamed buns (rice) and Norway’s lefse (rye); Ethiopia’s injera (teff) and Australia’s damper (wheat), but they are all variations on what humans have learned to do with water and flour. Way back in the day, there was somebody, maybe a guy named Todd, who was hiding in the grass over on the side of the valley where the river flows nearby, and he was waiting for his hunting buddies to drive a big wild animal toward him. The plan that he and his buds had concocted (maybe by drawing pictures in the sand to make sure they were all on the same page) was that he, Todd, would heave a big, long, sharp stick into the neck of the beast as he was herded toward him. Then, with the animal having been somewhat incapacitated, the unfortunate beast would be finished off by Todd’s cohorts and then they would be really happy. Hot, tired and hungry, but very happy because everybody knows that nothing makes a man more appealing to the ladies than dragging home a big, fresh carcass. Todd could feel it in his bones–there would be a party in the cave tonight and it would be an all-round awesome evening for Todd.
Well, as fate would have it, Todd was kind of a dufus; he got bored waiting around, and so he started knocking the tops off the grasses around him with his long stick, just to watch the seeds fly. It was cheap entertainment. Now back in those days, it was fairly common for people to put all kinds of things into their mouths to see if they were any good to eat. Some things turned out to be food; some didn’t. He sucked on one of those seeds and when he didn’t feel like upchucking, nor did he see bright flashing lights behind his eyes, Todd scooped together a pile of those seeds to bring back home with him. He was just starting to put them in the little pouch that he wore around his neck when the big beast came tearing through the brush. And, the rest, as they say, is history. Did Todd have an awesome evening? I don’t know, but I do know that Todd took those seeds back to the cave and soaked them in water to make them more edible and they were. Somebody else threw the seeds into boiling water to see if they would soften up faster and indeed, they did. Then sometime even later, some really forward thinking woman (maybe her name was Debbie, maybe it wasn’t) went back to the valley to gather more of those seeds because she had a brilliant idea. She collected a lot of seeds (she called them “grains” now) and she ground them between two big rocks into kind of a powdery mealy substance, and she added just a little water so that it became a sticky clay-like mass that she could flatten out and cook on top of a hot rock. It was a major advancement in culinary science. The clan was excited. They shared it with another clan and so on and so on. Hurray for Debbie! Hurray for the human race! And that, my friends, is what I was thinking about the other day.