Bread, the staff of life, one of the most fundamental food sources known to man. Unfortunately in western civilization it has taken on a more sinister role, that of “spawn of Gluten”.  Now I am being facetious about gluten and bread and I do not by no means take anyone with IBS,  Crohns, Colitis, Celiac, and any other type of medical issue with gluten lightly. These people have legitimate reasons to eliminate gluten from their diets. However my problem is with the demonization of gluten in bread, good wholesome bread for people who don’t have a problem with it.

It is a long established fact that the simplest of meals is often the most satisfying. How often do we long for comfort food, a warm bowl of soup and a good hunk of crusty bread to go with it on a frosty winter’s night, or after a hard day at work a slice of pizza (fancy open face sandwich anyone) and a frosty cold one. I could go on for days, however most of these dishes have one thing in common, bread; good old fashioned honest to goodness full of gluten (unless it’s made from 100% corn) bread. Here’s the thing, most of the bread you buy is not that great. Today what you get at the grocery store is made to be preserved on the shelf for as long as possible. Even the bread that is baked in house has to be able be stay mold free for a few days on the shelf and then at your place. I do not by any means under value the excellent bakeries that are out there doing an amazing job and I might add producing award winning baked goods.  However we don’t all live near such great bakeries and we all can’t just pop in at 6am in the morning and pick up a fresh french baguette hot from the oven that has nothing in it but flour water and yeast or can we???

Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.
―James Beard

Contrary to popular belief, good old fashioned food is still available and still affordable. Yes my blog is also self serving it is after all part of my import/export website after all. When I mentioned in my previous blog about our commitment to sourcing companies that believed in the genuineness of a product Oropane was one such company. Vito Forte started his family run bakery in 1956 in the Altamura area in the Pulgia region and he pretty much runs it in the same loving, caring and attention to authenticity today as when he started, 61 years ago. With his guidance and family holding most of the key positions in the organization Oropane is able to produce a quality product that is also exportable. Now the skeptics out there are going, wait a minute, bread from Italy can’t be that special if it can to be exported to North America and for many companies I would be in agreement. It must be loaded with additives and preservatives.

Not this bread. I’ll give you the ingredients list off the top of my head: Twice ground durum semolina wheat from the Apulia region (both versions are acceptable), water, mother yeast (starter dough), salt. That’s it, that’s all she wrote, nada, nothing else is added. They bake it off about to 80% and then quickly flash freeze it. When you get it home all you do is let it thaw on your counter for about 40-60mins and then pop it into your oven set at 400-420F for about 15-25mins depending on the degree of crispness you like, I like mine to be “shred the top of my mouth” crisp, but to each their own. When you cut into one of these filone breads and taste that wonderful fresh baked goodness, that satisfying crunch of the crust and the unique texture of semolina bread instead of enriched white flour, I know you will be hooked.

Lets talk about the Roman Schiaciatta or flat bread, a shape as old as the proverbial Appian way.  This style of bread is one of the oldest forms of baked grains that civilized man started to consume.  The traditional way this type of bread was consume was as a mid morning meal in where the Romans would flatten or crush figs onto the bread and even add some honey.  Today I can think of an infinite number of toppings that would be delicious on this bread, which by the way when baked to a golden color, the olive oil that is infused into the dough warms up and gives the most amazing fragrance. This bread is perfect to make the best open face sandwiches you’ll ever have. However you can go the traditional route and slice the whole thing in two and make great tasting press sandwiches. Don’t forget these breads are also perfect as pizza bases so just add some sauce and your favorite toppings put it in an oven and you can have an amazing pizza.

With today’s busy life style it’s too easy to get home and pick up the phone to feed your family or yourself for that matter. Keep some frozen quality products from Oropane available and in less time it takes to order fast food you can have good wholesome food ready on the table and start enjoying your meal for a change.