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    September 22

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SATURDAY'S CHILD - Bakes, cakes and wakes

Tony Deyal,

Added 23 October 2010

saturdayschild1

It might go against the grain for people who swear by the Paleolithic Diet but the cave dwellers, from whom we were descended or bred, ate bread. According to the Reuter’s News Agency, “Starch grains found on 30 000-year-old grinding stones suggest that prehistoric man may have dined on an early form of flat bread, contrary to his popular image as primarily a meat-eater.” I gave a rye smile when I saw that. Reuters explained: “The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal on Monday, indicate that Palaeolithic Europeans ground down plant roots similar to potatoes to make flour, which was later whisked into dough. “It’s like a flat bread, like a pancake with just water and flour,” said Laura Longo, a researcher on the team from the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History. “You make a kind of pita and cook it on the hot stone,” she said, describing how the team replicated the cooking process.” In Trinidad we would call the flat bread a “saada” roti or, if Paleolithic man found dried coconuts and decided to experiment, a “coconut bake”, which should go down well with the creatures of the time. I am sure further exploration will reveal a cave drawing, in front and not inside a cave, that advertises “Bread and Mammoth” for sale. What the researchers actually found were palm-sized grinding stones at sites in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic. This means that we were using flour 30 000 years ago instead of the 20 000 years that the previously oldest evidence from Israel indicated. Until these new finds, I had actually believed that the Jews were the originators of bread. One source says, “Biblical Hebrew contains 12 names for different types of bread, most of them still in use in the modern spoken language. In addition to challah, other words still in use include, for example, kikar, which refers to a loaf of bread, and oogah, a cake of bread, which now is used to mean cake. “Rakik retains the same meaning (a thin cracker), and levivah, a pancake bread, now means pancake. Paht is used to mean a slice or piece of bread, and the same word root can be seen in pita.” There are also Bialy, Matzoh and Bagels. The Jewish love for bread is evident in a story about an old Jewish man who went to a diner every day for lunch. He always ordered the soup du jour. One day the manager asked him how he liked his meal. The old man replied, “Vas goot, but you could give a little more bread.” The next day the manager told the waitress to give him four slices of bread. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asked. “Vas goot, but you could give a little more bread,” the old man responded. So the next day the manager told the waitress to give him eight slices of bread. “How was your meal today, sir?” the manager asked. “Vas goot, but you could give maybe a little more bread,” came the reply. The manager then instructed the waitress to give the old man a whole loaf of bread with his soup. “How was your meal, sir?” the manager asked, when the old man came to pay the bill. “Vas goot, but you could give maybe a little more bread,” came the reply once again. The manager was obsessed with seeing this customer say that he was satisfied with his meal, so he went to the bakery and ordered a six-foot-long loaf of bread. When the man came in as usual the next day, the waitress and the manager cut the loaf in half, buttered the entire length of each half, and laid it out along the counter, right next to his bowl of soup. The old man sat down, and devoured his bowl of soup and both halves of the six-foot-long loaf of bread. The manager now thought the old man would be satisfied. When the old man came up to pay for his meal, the manager asked in the usual way, “How was your meal today sir?” The old Jew replied, “It vas goot as usual, but why are you back to giving me only two slices of bread!” Wikipedia says that the Paleolithic diet is a nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various human species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic period. It consists mainly of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots, and nuts; and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils. My faith in my ancestors has now been restored since I find it impossible to understand how anyone can survive without bread, much less aspire towards civilization. Life without bread is like politics without corruption, Port-of-Spain without floods, the Barbados Labour Party without Owen Arthur, or Brian Lara without a bat. Bread is the great leavener. It causes societies and people to rise and reach their full potential. In such societies where people grow up on arrowroot, wheat, oats, rice and other grains, there might be those extremists who eat so much they can be called “cereal” killers but there are no serial killers. We are far too contented with our bagels, baguettes and buns to become like Jeffrey Dahmer or Hannibal Lecter. There is indeed a grain of sense in the actual diet of the Paleolithics and shows what bread can do for the brain. By including cereals in their diets and eschewing salt and oil, the Paleolithics show that they understood the danger to their health of all the red meat they were eating. Life might have been tense but at least it was not hypertensive. Life was also tense and tenuous for an old bread lover who lay in bed, very ill and out of sorts, smelling the delicious odour of baking bread in the kitchen downstairs. He called his wife and asked her, “Darling, I have been ill for several months now and the doctor refuses to tell me anything. He talks to you but never in my presence. What exactly is the problem? Am I going to die?” His wife dismissed the idea out of hand. “No way,” she said. “The doctor told me that you are suffering from the complications of old age and that you will probably outlast me.” Pleased to hear the good news, the old man replied, “That’s a relief! In fact, that makes me feel so much better that I will have a piece of that delicious bread you’re baking.” “No way,” the woman replied. “That is for the wake!” * Tony Deyal was last seen talking about the man who loved his wife’s cooking but she never allowed him to eat her salt fish and roll on the bed.

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