Wednesday, October 10, 2018
When I became a baker, I was alert to references to baking and wheat which showed how culturally and historically deep these subjects are in our civilisation. For example, I have always respected the expression that “bread is the staff of life”, which first appeared early in the 17th century. Imagine the catastrophe of widespread famine that occurred regularly in past times when unusual weather events ruined the wheat and rye crops for a season or two.
Juvenal, the Roman satirist, showed political awareness when he pronounced that in order to keep the populace happy and quiet the rulers must provide sufficient “bread and circuses”.
For the Christian there is the communion wafer to represent the bread that Christ instructed was a symbol of his body; more bizarrely, there was the cutting of a cross on the loaves and buns to dispel the devil.
Recently, when for my book research I was delving into the origins of the Assize of Bread (13th century), I gained an insight into the origin of our currency and the establishment of the English pound, later to be called “pound sterling”. At the time of the Assize the silver penny was often the sole coinage used, and it had been the most popular form of currency for the preceding six centuries. It was introduced during the 8th century by the great King Offa of Mercia. The pound mentioned above was a pound weight of silver, to be divided into 240 silver pennies (and 12 pennies made a shilling, with 20 shillings to the pound).The penny weight of silver had been calculated as 32 grains of wheat, dry, and taken from the middle of the ear. This fascinating link between wheat (and other grains too) and money standards goes right back to Roman times. It stands as yet another example of the deep role that wheat has played in our civilisation.
CALENDAR, forthcoming course
Courses that feature Christmas cooking
- Sat 24th – 1 Day Sweet Doughs (Christmas)
To find out more about all these courses, visit the course calendar
NEW – there has been a request for a special one-day PANETTONE course. Date yet to be set.
Contact me to find out more if you wish to join.
PANARY in PROVENCE April 29, 2019 – booking now
5 nights in a beautiful vineyard with superb accommodation gites made from the ancient farm buildings.
Baking French-style breads in domestic ovens as well as a wood-fired oven in the courtyard. Lots of baking, two half-day excursions, and lots of fun. Read more about PANARY in PROVENCE, here.
BUY OUR BREAD
Within days this section of the website will be live, featuring a shop. It is all about our once-a-week commercial baking day every Thursday. Bread can be picked up, or sent to you by parcel post
Good baking, Panarians.