Friday, October 8, 2010

Ancient Bread Reproduced Near Pyramids After 4500 Years

You may not have noticed, but I love bread! And some of my favorites are breads of the sourdough variety. Good sourdough bread can be found almost anywhere now, but the beautiful sourdoughs in the picture are made fresh daily at the Boudin Sourdough Bread Bakery in San Francisco--a bakery I've seen in operation on television. Now I don't want to give you a recipe for sourdough bread, but I do want to tell you about Ed Wood, who wrote the book: World Sourdoughs From Antiquity. What makes him fascinating to me is that he studied "the magic of sourdoughs" for close to 50 years and became a master of his craft. But he didn't stop there. It's his trip to Egypt that I want to tell you about.  

Remember the line that says, "You had me at 'Hello'?" Well read Ed's description of a hot loaf of sourdough coming out of the oven: "A loaf of hot sourdough exudes an aroma with an overpowering, irresistible attraction that can be experienced only in the warmth of one's own kitchen. It cannot be purchased anywhere. No other bread is anything like it. If there is an endorphin in the kitchen, it is in the divine 'thing' that makes bread rise!" That's a "Hello" line to me!

But Ed didn't rest with becoming a master of breadmaking. In the Fall of 1991, as Ed tells it, he was reading the paper, when he noticed an article about an archaeologist who was reporting the excavation of a large, ancient bakery near the pyramids of Giza. Ed saw this as an opportunity to "isolate a sourdough culture that leavened man's first bread from the walls of that bakery." So he called Dr. Mark Lehner. Eventually, Ed learned that the ancient bakery had been built in 2500 B.C. to feed the thousands of workers who built the pyramids at Giza. And in 1993 Ed was asked by National Geographic magazine to help them and Dr. Lehner rediscover how the Egyptians baked the first leavened bread. They not only hoped to produce the same bread, but use the same kind of ovens, baking vessels, and tools. They didn't know if the Egyptian government would allow them to search through the ovens site, but they would try to get permission. Everything had been covered in sand to protect it. Would they want it disturbed?

 Tune in tomorrow to see what happened. I've just read that a blog should only be 250 words long. I'm not sure that will ever be me, but I'm trying! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend.


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