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Bread, glorious bread!

It is such an intrinsic part of society it deserves to be listed by UNESCO, bakers say

German bread is the greatest thing since, well … sliced bread! The country boasts more than 3,000 different varieties of the stuff, far more than any other country in the world. Whether white, grey or black, made with pumpkin or with sunflower seeds, whether bread roll or pretzl –  it doesn’t just fill the stomach, it’s a work of art and an intrinsic part of German culture. And despite the onslaught of supermarkets, huge numbers of villages still have their own bakery.

This vast offer is partly down to Germany’s varied climate, which allows wheat, rye, barley and oats but also buckwheat, maize or millet and potatoes to thrive. All are used as the basis for dough.

But history and geography were equally important to diversity, as the small princedoms of the olden days sought to carve out their own identity with individual coins… and bread varieties. In true German fashion, the bakers huddled together in guilds and passed their craft on from generation to generation. Today, most regions still have their own local speciality, such as the Westphalian Pumpernickel, Bavarian Pretzl or Oldenburger Brot, a wholemeal bread made of rye. And German bakers and patissiers are found in big cities and hotels all over the world.

If we really needed proof that Germans know which side their bread (brot) is buttered we’d find it in expressions such as Abendbrot (supper), Brötchengeber (employer) or Brotneid (envy) and also in valued institutions such as the Museum of Bread Culture in Ulm. In the fact that the star puppet of German children’s TV channel KI.KA is ‘Bernd, das Brot’ – a slice of talking bread. Or the “Day of the Bread” on 5th May when the Bread Ambassador (2014: celebrity chef Tim Mälzer) promotes the benefits of bread throughout the country.

In fact, it is of such importance to the nation that German bakers are now calling for it to be recognised by UNESCO as part of the “intangible cultural heritage”, just like the Argentian tango or Chinese acupuncture.



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