Prehistoric man ate the first slice of bread tens of thousands of years ago, but it wasn’t exactly a nice pasta dura or ciabatta loaf. Primitive bread was probably made by mixing crushed barley and other grains with water and spreading the paste on a hot rock until it hardened into some kind of gritty pancake.
Some archaeologists think that the development of this kind of bread encouraged prehistoric man to move from a nomadic lifestyle into small farming communities – a move which has shaped civilisation as we know it.
Bread next appeared in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, when Egyptian bakers discovered the magical bubbles of air that occur when yeast ferments and allow bread to rise. However Egyptian bread would have been horrible compared with the breads we know today. Ancient mummies have been found with cracked, chipped teeth, which was probably the legacy of a lifetime of gritty bread.
Eating patterns from this ancient era still carry on today. It was from Ancient Egypt that Moses led the Israelites in such a hurry that their bread didn’t even have time to rise. Leavened bread became a symbol of permanence and stability to the Israelites, and they didn’t allow their bread to rise until they entered the Promised Land. To this day Jews mark Passover by eating unleavened bread.