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The Spanish Legacy of Food: Our Daily Bread
Delicious Bread Recipes
Give us today our daily bread
"Give us today our daily bread" is a passage quoted in the bible in Matthew 6:11 and is used in The Lord's Prayer. However, the earliest uses of bread were more so patisseries and instead of being requested they were offered to deities in early civilisations such as the Sumerians and the Egyptians.
The plough, the fermentation of alcohol, the advancement of the mill to alleviate manual grinding, and skilled artisans trained in the technique of kneading combined eventually to bread production introduced into Europe by the Romans.
It was not until the discovery of Louis Pasteur that the fermentation of alcohol was actually a biological and not a chemical process that lead to the introduction of yeast production on an industrial scale. This revolutionised the production of alcohol and in turn the availability of bread to the masses.
Bread became such a staple part of many international diets that in May 1898 due to shortages in Europe and the Spanish-American War, countries such as Britain, Italy and Spain rioted from the scarcity of being able to purchase it.
Nowadays, it is an uncommon sight to not see bread on a Spanish table and there are several types of bread. The most common is the barra which is a long roll that can be cut into smaller portions, or left as it is, sliced lengthwise and then filled with Spanish cheeses, jamon (Spanish cured ham) and salad vegetables to serve as a bocadillo. Or they can be sliced to salvage the remnants of delicious Spanish recipes that contain wet foods such as soups, stews and sauces.
The two most well known areas of bread making sit on the shoulders of Spain on the corners of the North. The far west has the province of Galicia, whose capital Santiago de Compostela is the third holiest city in the world and the pilgrimage route of St James: The Patron Saint of Spain. This region boasts some very popular bread varieties which are globally exported to America and other areas of Europe. Besides the barra it also bakes Bollas Gallegas – which are rounded loaves and Panecillo Tetina which are traditional Galician small rounded rolls. The baking heaven of the east side is the region of Catalonia and its capital Barcelona. As well as flying high in the football Spanish Liga, the capital has one of the most sought for breads which has become famous for its unique light and delicious texture of the Pan de Cristal.
As well as our daily bread, the Spanish also serve up picos (little breadsticks), tortas flavoured with herbs, olive oil, sesame or sea salt and crisp breads which can all be served as tapas with a bowl of olives and a tipple of your favourite Spanish wine.