Wikispanishfood.com editorial team
It's impossible to identify the origin of what is considered to be Man's main sustenance. There are those who say it was first created on the banks of the Euphrates, in China, in Asia Minor, or in Abyssinia, while various myths and legends attribute bread making to the gods, or to beings of a superior and far-away culture.
Bread making required knowledge about a variety of topics, from how to grow grains to the discovery and use of fire required for baking, to the chemical process that the dough undergoes during fermentation as a result of the yeast.
The first references to bread date back to the beginning of Humanity. Archaeological findings reveal that 1,000 years before the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations emerged, the Indo-Germanic people were already kneading and cooking grains with water.
Ties to archaic rituals
Bread is a well-ingrained part of our daily diet and is closely connected to archaic rituals that still take place today in festive-religious ceremonies. In fact, together with wine, it's the basis of Catholicism and serves as a link with communion and brotherhood.
Today bread has less calories per gram than fat and sugar and it contains mineral salts, fiber and B vitamins, which make it an important component in a healthy diet.
These qualities have led to an upswing in recent years in the popularity in various types of bread, such as white loaves, rustic bread and special Galician-style bread. In large cities, "bread boutiques" are popping up left, right and center, selling breads that went out of style long ago as well as foreign types of bread.
Big cities are home to bakeries that offer a wide variety, such as: rustic, Italian, French, sliced, a range of wheat options, compressed yeast bread, country-style bread, white loaves, etc. The latest novelty is deep-frozen bread that can be stored in the fridge for long periods of time. When it's finally baked, it's almost better than a freshly made loaf.
The birth of bread menus
Bread has made a comeback in both restaurants and households, to the extent that some locales, along with their wine menus, now have a bread menu with recommendations about which type pairs best with each dish. These menus may include garlic, onion, olive oil, and whole grain breads, and bread with seeds, cumin, bacon, curry, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc. Over time, a wider range of ingredients are added.
Bread and wine are the only food and beverage that are present throughout the meal, from start to finish. Although it's tricky to recommend pairings as tastes vary, as a general rule, dark, wheat and bran breads go well with stews, salads and vegetable dishes. Slightly sweet wheat and corn breads taste delicious with pâtés, blue cheese and foie. Heavy meat and fish dishes need only a light bread, such as a wheat and rye mix or a wheat with a lot of body. Charcuterie pairs perfectly with tortas de aceite (a crisp, flaky sweet cracker) from Castile-León, Aragón or Catalonia.
Bread has always been an extremely important ingredient throughout Spain. It's used in cold cream-based and hot soups, puddings, cakes, sandwiches... in very popular recipes, such as Castilian garlic soup, Andalusian salmorejo (similar to gazpacho), Manchego-style gazpacho (a meat-based stew), Basque zurrukutuna (garlic, bread and cod soup), and desserts like pan bendito (a type of cake) and bread and almond soup.
Some Spanish breads have a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) quality seal, such as Pan de Cea, Pan de Cruz de Ciudad Real, Pa de Pagés Catalá, and Pan de Alfacar de Granada, while others have Quality Guarantees: Pan de Valladolid, Pan de Cañada, Pan de Pintera de Aragón and Pan de Escanda de Asturias. In Mayorga de Campos (Valladolid), there's an extraordinary Bread Museum with plenty of information about the culture of bread. Bread is a product with notable sensory attributes, as it has a lot of aromas, flavors and textures. And when it's prepared well, it's a true culinary gem.
In Spain, the "Bread Every Day" campaign is an initiative that is fully supported by Spain's bread industry and which aims to increase people's understanding of this product and promote consumption as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
VIENA LA BAGUETTE. Augusto Figueroa, 24. Tfno. 913 300 281 http://vienalabaguette.com/
TAHONA SAN ONOFRE. Hortaleza ,9. Tfno. 915 227 216 http://www.hsonofre.com/
HARINA. Plza. de la Independencia, 10. Tfno. 915 228 785 http://www.harinamadrid.com/
LEVADURA MADRE. Sainz de Baranda, 16, Tfno. 915 744 992 http://www.levaduramadre.es/
MUSEO DEL PAN GALLEGO .Herradores, 9. Tfno. 915 425 160 http://www.museodelpangallego.com/
MADRE HIZO PAN. Real, 2. Tfno. 918 576 082. Moralzarzal
TRITICUM. Polígono Industrial Les Corts. Tfno. 937 566 139. Cabrera de Mar. Barcelona.
TURRIS. Gran de Gracia, 34. Tfno. 933 682 970. Barcelona. http://www.turris.es/
CALVIÑO. Da Saleta s/n Tfno. 988 282 236. San Cristovo de Cea. Ourense.