The provenance of the loaf



Bread is so basic that most people don’t think about it or where it came from. But if you consider it, bread is a really odd invention, right up there with coffee and sausage. Can you imagine a primitive dude deciding it would be a good idea to harvest hard, bitter beans, burn them to a crisp, grind them into a nasty brown meal, combine it with hot water, and drink it?? Considering that process, stuffing pig intestine with chopped up meat and random things from other body parts is not such a random idea after all.

But back to bread. What did the first proto-baker say to convince people that this bread thing was a good idea? I imagine it went something like this:

Primitive chef: Hey, man. Check this out! I came up with a really rad idea for something to eat.

Cave dude: Oh yeah? Did you find a new kind of berry or something?

Primitive chef: Nope, but you’re gonna love it. I started with this plant called wheat. You can’t eat most of the plant — only this little kernel at the top.

Cave dude: Ok… does it taste like a berry?

Primitive chef: Well, no. It doesn’t have much flavor actually. And you have to take the little kernel out really painstakingly.

Cave dude: Um, this is not sounding rad.

Primitive chef: Just listen, man. I swear–it’s gonna be the biggest thing since cured mastodon!

Cave dude: Fine… so you take the wheat that doesn’t taste so good and is a pain in the loin cloth to get out of the chaff… but once you do that, you can eat it and it tastes really awesome?

Primitive chef: No, then I ground it up into a powder.

Cave dude: Hm.

Primitive chef: And then I took the powder and mixed it with water and stuff. Then I forgot about it for a while. And when I came back, it smelled really nasty.

Cave dude: Gross.

Primitive chef: And then I took the really nasty-smelling stuff and made a fire. Then I put it in front of the fire and waited for a while. And the stuff puffed up and smelled even more weird and then I ate it! And a little was left so I kept it around for a few days and it didn’t go bad! Even ate some buffalo jerky in between two pieces of it. Doesn’t that sound righteous?

Cave dude: Whatever, man. I’m gonna go pick some berries.

…and yet, somehow, it caught on…


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