The Irish Love Affair With Bread
The love of bread in Ireland goes back centuries, and the oldest record of bread in Ireland is a flat bread which dates back to the Stone Age. When the Normans arrived they brought new bread making methods with them and sometime in the 11th Century, fine sieves were used to separate the bran and white bread was born. These days, white bread is enjoyed by everyone and not just the privileged few who were able to get their hands on white flour in centuries gone by.
While Irish Soda bread remains very popular, whether white or brown, white sliced bread is still the chosen daily staple in most households in Ireland. People might make yeast bread at home, but we mostly prefer to buy our bread fresh daily from bakeries across the country, who deliver it to our local shops after a long night of baking – you might remember reading all about this in our Day in The Life of a Sliced Pan blog last year.
So what is it about bread that Irish people love so much? Is it the smell as it comes out of the oven or the happy memories it evokes? Is it because its good for us, providing vitamins, minerals and essential carbohydrates for energy? It’s all of those things. Auctioneers even suggest that people selling their house should bake bread when people come to view the property as it creates that feeling of home. Bread brings us back to happy childhood memories, picnics with family, toast in front of the fire on a cold night. And everyone will tell you that there is no better taste than fresh toast and a cup of tea for comfort. The smell of bread evokes feelings and memories of well-being for people. When we smell bread, the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain, has direct connections to the two brain areas that are strongly connected to emotion and memory. My own memories are of my grandparents who always toasted their batch bread under the grill, on one side only!
Who can forget how crazy we went buying bread in February 2018 when the Beast from the East snowed us in – it was an obsession based on our love of the loaf and it generated some very funny memes on social media!
So while bread’s aroma and nutritious credentials are two of the reason why Irish people love so much, the third big reason is because it just tastes so good!
Read more about bread here:
Oonagh Monahan is the Principle Consultant at Alpha Omega Consultants, a specialist food business consultancy based in Co. Leitrim. She is a Chartered Food Scientist, a Fellow of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (UK) and the Institute of Food Science and Technology of Ireland (IFSTI).