Food

Memories of Bread and Simplicity

When I think of bread, I immediately think of the crunchy crust that crunches under my teeth, of my home that is filled with an intoxicating and irresistible scent, of simplicity, warmth, of love.

I think back to when my mother used to prepare rosette for us as a snack. She filled the small, typical bread of Rome, with raw ham and love. 

But also Terni bread, a really simple but very good bland bread, which goes well with everything. That bread accompanied the breakfasts of my childhood, running away from the chaos of the city every weekend, escaping to our home in Umbria. We loved preparing bruschetta by rubbing fresh tomatoes just picked from the garden, topped with a basil leaf and a drizzle of oil, but also simply with butter and salt. 

When simplicity of ingredients satisfies the palate and, above all, is able to imprint indelible images that became precious memories over time.

Undisputed protagonist of our cuisine, bread evokes in each of us traditions, meanings and symbols that transport us elsewhere and go far beyond nutrition. Each region has its own bread, as does each country: think of the French baguette, the German pretzel or the naan in India.

In the past year, many have rediscovered the pleasure of this ancient and slow ritual. Do you remember when during the lockdown finding yeast became difficult if not impossible at times? Yes, because making bread is a magical, mystical, alchemical act. Seeing how, through almost instinctive gestures, the simple elements – water, flour, yeast and salt – mix together giving rise to something unique is like seeing a small miracle being born every time.

Making bread brings us home. It forces us to slow down and reconnect with that part of us that we often give too little space to. Our most authentic, intuitive part, perhaps even a little childish because it forces us to go back to where children live: in the here and now. This is why afterwards it is not difficult to perceive the same positive effects of a yoga session, a meditation or, why not, some psychotherapy. It is able to completely change our mood, giving us peace and trust.

There are many, many flours in existence, as are their yeasts, although it is now known that the mother yeast or sourdough is the best quality one, making the dough much more digestible and assimilable thanks to the bacteria present. Even with regard to flours, many have now rediscovered the so-called “ancient grains” which have nothing to do with refined “0” or “00” flours. Ancient grains help create a bread rich in nutrients and, with reduced gluten content, cause the body less inflammation. In short, bread made with mother yeast and certain flour translates into the best quality bread that can be eaten daily. And it’s much tastier and tastier too!

At our home in Sicily every week we give life to this wonderful ritual. Here the flour we find are the best that can be found: Timilia or Tumminia, Perciasacchi, Madonita and also Russello, Senatore Cappelli and Maiorca.

We start the night before, refreshing the mother yeast with water and flour. Then the next morning we knead, wait half an hour and start with the folds: the first, then after another half hour the second and finally the third. The dough changes, it changes under your hands and hearts. 

It is no coincidence that the hands are energetically associated with the heart, as if they were real extensions of this magical organ, thus bringing feeling into what we do. I am more than sure that if we are angry, sad or confused our bread will absorb those feelings as well as it absorbs our joy, gratitude and peace.

In short, you just have to try and find out what this ritual has in store for you, not doing it means giving up a great opportunity!