Traditional Breads Project

Ursula Daniels and Jenny Bardwell

Jenny Bardwell, PaxWorks Curriculum Director, has initiated the Traditional Breads Project with women across the globe to keep bread traditions alive through collaborative information sharing.

Ursula Daniels and J. Bardwell traveled to Kalamata, Greece to the 22nd International Society for Ethnology and Folklore conference. Bardwell presented on three bacteria-fermented breads: salt rising (from Appalachia, USA), Ephtazymo (from Greece), and Gargoush (from Sudan). Each of these breads utilize indigenous ingredients from their region of origin for the bacterial fermentation. The methods of making these breads have been passed down orally, sometimes in secret, and are at risk of being forgotten.  We want to establish an international community of women bakers who can learn from each other’s traditions, thus inspire respect and pride for their own cultural food heritage. Central to how scientific discovery occurs, thinking and working together raises the intellectual value and feeling of confidence among shareholders. In ocale, there may be a step in their traditional bread making that is cumbersome. By sharing techniques and informal teaching we can develop improvements. Through shared social media formats, we will build platforms to promote the exchange of information, images and discussion among the bakers.

Jenny and Ursula continued their search for similar regional culinary traditions in Serbia, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. As these countries  struggle to integrate refugees, the deeply personal home-making practices can serve to create human bonds that will enhance understanding between each other, and foster the creation of ‘Home’ in a foreign land.

Women around the world have been baking for millennia. Through the practice of female scientific inquiry and oral collaboration passed down through generations, they have devised ingenious methods of natural fermentation to raise their bread. Although the vast majority of breads are fermented by yeasts, the current focus is on bread fermented by wild bacteria. Wild bacterial fermentation is a unique, indigenous culinary tradition practiced by women in only a few regions worldwide. The regions in the world that have established this cultural food heritage are Cyprus, Greece, Sudan, Turkey, and United States. This project aims to preserve this indigenous knowledge and tradition through scientific inquiry, documentation, and collaborative information sharing.