The World’s Favourite Food: Bread


Bread
Travis Nep Smith, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Joshua Leo look at the history of bread. People eat bread almost everywhere in the world - it is the world's favourite food!

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Joshua Leo.

Voice 2

And I'm Liz Waid. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

pain ... brot ... chapati ... naan ...

Voice 1

What are these people talking about? Well, it is one of the world's most popular foods:

ekmek ... pao ... mkate ...

BREAD!

Voice 2

Bread is one of the world's oldest foods. Its history starts thousands of years ago - a long time before people started to record historical facts. Scientists have studied the customs of ancient cultures. They think that two particular people groups planted and used wheat. Wheat is the main part, or ingredient, in most bread. These groups lived in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia (part of modern Iraq). At first they ate the wheat grain just as it was. But over time, they found other ways to use it. They crushed the wheat and added water. This made a thick soft 'dough'. People held this soft, smooth mix over an open fire. It then turned into a hard, flat bread.

Voice 1

These ancient people groups made another discovery. But this time, it was by accident! People found that if they left the uncooked dough for a time, something strange happened. When they cooked it, the bread was sometimes softer and lighter. Later, they discovered that this was caused by yeast. Yeast is a very small organism, small enough to float on air. The yeast in the air reacted with something in the dough. It created gas. This gas made the dough rise. So when they cooked it, it tasted good! Later, people learned to add yeast to control the taste of their bread.

Voice 2

This new food, bread, had a particular influence on the behaviour of these ancient ethnic groups. They discovered that they could store wheat. And they found that uncooked bread dough kept fresh for some time. This meant that people did not have to go and search for food every single day. And so it left time for them to learn other skills that would help develop their society.

Voice 1

Bread soon began to take an important place in people's lives. From the most unimportant person to the highest official in the land - everyone liked to eat bread.

Voice 2

Today, thousands of years later, many people visit the Egyptian part of the British Museum in London. In the Egyptian part of the museum, visitors can see bread that is 5,000 years old! Archaeologists found it in an Egyptian king's funeral building. The king wanted to have bread to eat in the next life. So he ordered that people bury some bread with him when he died. It would taste terrible now!

Voice 1

In the ancient Roman empire, bread-making had became a real skill. Not just anyone could do it. The government formed a bread-makers' organization. A member of this organization was called a 'pistor' in the Latin language. In English, it means 'baker'. The bakers cooked, or baked, the bread. And they enjoyed special treatment. First, they were free men - they were not slaves. Second, they could not mix with theatre people - actors and fighters. The government thought that the behaviour of such people could have a bad influence on bakers. Bakers had to be pure in their behaviour. And third, being a baker was a job for life. A baker could not change to another job, even if he wanted to. His children had to become bakers also. The art of making bread was to stay in the family forever. Being a baker in Rome was a big responsibility!

Voice 2

Over the years, the main ingredients of bread - wheat, water, yeast and salt - have not changed much. However, different cultures have created their own versions. And some of these are:

Voice 3

Pitta - a small round flat bread eaten in Middle Eastern countries. People cut it open and fill it with meat or vegetables.

Voice 4

Baguette - a long thin stick of white bread. Baguettes are very popular with French people. They eat them at almost every meal!

Voice 3

Roggenbrot - a popular bread in Germany. Bakers use dark rye grain instead of the usual wheat. This gives roggenbrot its special black colour.

Voice 4

Injera - a bread made from a kind of wheat called teff. Teff is the most common wheat in Ethiopia. People here mix the teff with water. Some time later they take the teff and water mixture and cook it in oil. The result is flat and thick. People eat it with meat and vegetables.

Voice 1

It is true that bread has been a popular food around the world for a long time. It is easy to produce and is full of goodness. But years ago, bread was also a sign of someone's wealth. The whiter the bread, the richer the person. Why? Well, the natural colour of crushed wheat is not white. It takes a number of processes to make the wheat as white as possible. These processes involve removing every small unwanted particle and crushing the wheat even more. All this takes time. So, in the past, white bread was more costly - because it took longer to make. If someone bought white bread, they usually had plenty of money. The poor people were left with darker bread. This was made from wheat that still contained impure particles.

Voice 2

However, it seems that the poor people may have had the better result after all. Scientists later discovered that bread made with whole grain wheat was more healthy. So darker bread made with 'impure' wheat was better for people's diets. Today, eating white bread is less popular in many countries! People know that whole wheat bread is better for their health.

Voice 1

Bread is an important food. So in language, people often use the word 'bread' to mean any important and simple need for life. Every week in church many Christians say the prayer: "Give us this day our daily bread". They are asking God to provide all that they need for life - not just food to eat.

Voice 2

People also talk about 'bread and butter' work. These are the important things that we need to do as part of our job. And they often use the word 'bread' to mean money. A 'bread-winner' is the person in a family who earns the money. The word, 'bread' has become part of culture in so many ways.

Voice 1

Are you having bread with your dinner tonight? What kind will you eat?

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Ruby Jones. The producer was Joshua Leo. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called 'The World's Favourite Food: Bread'.

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

 

Question:

Will you eat bread today? What kind of bread is common where you live?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Jody
said on May 24, 2011

If there would be some questions to see if we understood well, it would be more convenient and kind to us, the listeners.

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GelezniyDen
said on May 24, 2011

Hello hey everybody and good morning all people in the beautiful world. Thanks all authors for very interesting article. Usually I eat white bread but i like black bread too. And i eat bread each meal for me it is just very important part of my meal. By the way Jody good idea I am joining. And if do you want communicate on English more than now add me to your skype. My skype gelezniyden. I will glad to see each from us.

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Jody
said on May 24, 2011

Hi GelezniyDen!  Thanks for your comment.  It is a very good idea to exchange our opinions thru the skype about this article, etc.  I wish I could use that skype….  If I should be able to use it some time in future, I will contact you!  Than you anyway, Gelezniyden.

duryan's avatar
duryan
said on June 11, 2012

Hi people, in Armenian bread is huts, huts is very common and it the standing part of our meals, We have many recipes, which includes huts or luvush. Luvush is like a long paper list, it may keep many days.

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NightlyOwl
said on June 11, 2012

I love bread. Especially when it’s fresh and warm. This lovely delicious smell. Yum-yum Now in the market a large variety breads. And this is cool. We can choose to taste. I love bread with bran. This is a tasty and healthy. Thanks for the interesting and useful program.

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Pauli Aguilar
said on June 13, 2012

I love bread, it`s part of my diet in special brown bread. I think that this has been a good subject, congratulations!!!

JoaoVBR's avatar
JoaoVBR
said on August 10, 2015

Here in Brazil, most people are used to eat bread in their breakfast and sometimes in a small meal in the middle of afternoon. We also used to cut the bread with a knife and add margarine or mayonnaise inside it. It’s quite tasteful =D

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sunny le
said on August 11, 2015

I love bread. In Viet Nam, everyone usually eats bread in the morning. It’s very delicious combined with different things.You can choose many types of bread including meat, fish, egg and few vegetable…. well, it’s very convenient

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Dela
said on August 15, 2015

We cannot imagine breakfast without eating different kinds of bread that represents an irreplaceable part of our everyday meals. In my country, we have a possibility to buy many various kinds of bread either in supermarkets or in the smaller bakery.
Nowadays, people mostly try to prefer buying dark rye bread or other one containing entire cereal grains and bran because it is considered to be most contributing to humans’ health. Unfortunately, the costs of this ‘‘better’’ bread having beneficial influences on humans’ health are still relatively high.

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nghean84
said on November 20, 2015

Hi everybody! I think that it is interesting to eat the bread in the morning. In our country we often eat with Pho, vermicelli, or rice for breakfast. They are common foods and delicious! And flour usually mixes with egg to fry at family reunions. We eat and chat together! Thank Spotlight a lot!

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kenhieuloilam
said on December 29, 2016

Food is necessary to life. Food is important in our lives. Food is important to our health. We live and work. When our health is good we can work and do our responsibilities and duties. When our health is bad we cannot work or do our responsibilities and duties. If we are alive we will live a beautiful good life. If we are alive we will do our responsibilities and duties. We work to get essential things for our lives. We always make much effort to live our lives well.  We ask God to give us our daily food every day. We ask God to change us to become good children of God.

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Dela
said on December 30, 2016

Surely, we only should make a wish so that all people around the world mainly including the poor ones will be given their daily bread! We must help needed people so much as we can and then hopefully our wish will come true in the near future! We mustn’t forget poor, suffering people in any case, we should feel gratefulness we have a possibility to eat bread every day!
Thanks Spotlight for excellent topic!
I wish all Spotlight team Happy New Year!

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on February 11, 2017

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Saturday 11, February 2017
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Joshua Leo, and Ruby Jones:

At first, I want to thank you for bringing us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!
No, I will not eat it now because I ate it in the morning. Here in Brazil the most common bread is pão francês. In English it is called French bread. So, my favorite bread is full bread of the brand wickbold. That kind of bread is excellent . It is hundred percent full (100% full of wheat). If you want to know more information about that excellent product from Brazil, please just search at: http://www.wickbold.com.br

God bless you
Severino Ramos
Brazil

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Dela
said on February 12, 2017

No doubt, the wheat bread is excellent, nevertheless, according to specialists’ opinion, the bread with really considerable benefits to human health should contain a lot of seeds of pumpkin, gingili, oat, linseeds and so on. Moreover, that whole bread should include except wheat flour at least a half rye flour as well. In my country, the mentioned similar bread is beginning to appear in the bakeries but, unfortunately, this product has been relatively expensive so far.