Bread & Social Status – The Staff of Life Series

Behold the peasant bread, fresh from the King’s Bakery in the Fortress of Louisbourg.

 

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

I was recently at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. This heritage site recreates an 18th century French fortress with staff in period costume and interactive activities depicting daily life. The King’s Bakery is a fully functioning period kitchen that produces hundreds of loaves of bread daily which are for sale to visitors to the site.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

There were 3 types of bread for sale coming in loaf or bun form. According to the head baker the bread was labelled upper class (100% white flour), middle class (50% white and 50% whole wheat flour) and peasant bread coming in at 80% whole wheat and 20% rye.

Photo by Kimberley (c)2014
Photo by Kimberley (c)2014

It is interesting to note that the healthiest bread is given the lowest title. White products (i.e. flour, sugar, etc) have long held the status of being as refined as those who could afford them. But the brown stuff, i.e. unrefined, is making a come back. Nowadays it is the artisanal loaves made with whole grain flours that have the status that white bread once did.

Here’s an interesting read on the subject of bread and social status:

The History of Bread as a Social Marker from the website Mother Earth News.

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