By William Rubel
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Additional resources for Bread: A Global History
The bakeries of Brittany are now like those in the rest of France. People eat wheat bread, mostly white, and, however celebrated the galette de sarrasin may be at festivals, for all practical purposes the sour buckwheat crêpe was rejected by the people of Brittany in favour of white loaf breads as soon as they could afford to do so. Flatbreads are a footnote to European bread history. No story that involves people is ever simple.
When we look at what seem to be still-living European flatbread traditions, such as the yufka of Cappadocia in Greece or the Balkan lepinja, it is worth noting that before ultra-refined flour was cheap these breads were probably very different from those we see today. Pancakes are a form of flatbread and in some regions of Europe pancakes functioned as a staple bread, notably the French crêpe and the Russian blini. Even while they were a staple food of endemic poverty, the crêpe and the blini escaped their sour-batter buckwheat and rye antecedents to find themselves embraced by elite diners.
The coarse bread served to the farm workers was served crust intact. Even in a society more used than ours to the idea of a fixed social hierarchy, it must have felt terrible to be able to see by the bread on one’s table that one’s food wasn’t worth the trouble the master put into that of a horse. Horse-bread soured for human consumption, based on English texts, c. 1700. Bread made with pea and rye flour based on proportions mentioned in the Farming and Memorandum Book of Henry Best of Elmswell, England (1642).