As serious as bread can be, there is always something irresistible and festive about it. In the past, a dinner was only complete when the bread was brought to the table, and every year my family and I would conclude our Christmas eve dinner with the breaking of a home made bread hiding a golden coin in it- to see who receives the luck for the year (whoever receives the piece with the coin, is blessed with luck for the entire year). It is impossible not to take into account bread’s cultural, religious and political significance; bread has been around for millennia and until recently a normal family’s main food staple. Just like with tea, bread was the main food offered to greet guests with and a gracious reward after a long day of work in the fields.
Only recently and with the emergence of worldly cuisine trends, we witness bread disappearing from some of our dinner tables. Both individuals and families welcome exotic cuisines with open arms and bread has become to some, well, boring. Mass production and distribution are partly to blame as increases in supply and reductions in price greatly trivialized the act of kneading and baking fresh bread at home and awarded every family with the opportunity to eat bread how much and whenever they wanted. Next, there is the fast food industry, hamburgers, sandwiches and the like, packaging their product in cheap bread imitations devaluating the importance of good bread even further. Sadly, there are some of us that get by with cheap, tasteless bread for most of our lives.
A diverging trend is developing along the same time-line, coming as a relief to those of that love food. With the premiumisation of a wide variety of products, bread is among the most significant and well appreciated. Travel and globalization shapes us into ever more demanding consumers, always looking for the opportunity to express our unique identity. We come to appreciate once again aesthetically beautiful, quality products as they are mere representations of us as individuals. The emergence and aggressive development of the health food trend is short of describing the preceding phenomena; rather than passively accepting ‘healthy’ products, more and more consumers come to appreciate the art and sophistication involved in producing artisanal bread.
In the final stage aggregate appreciation is transformed into the ‘platformization’ of once disparate producers and consumers into a common market place where genuinely good bread is recognized and enjoyed. The Real Bread Festival was a wonderful meeting place for all bread lovers searching for their ‘perfect slice’, either to enjoy as a snack on the spot or to re-introduce it on their dinner table again.