A loaf of bread made in the first century AD, which was discovered at Pompeii, preserved for centuries in the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius. The markings visible on the top are made from a Roman bread stamp, which bakeries were required to use in order to mark the source of the loaves, and to prevent fraud. (via Ridiculously Interesting)
(sigh) I’ve seen these before, but this one’s particularly beautiful.
I feel like I’m supposed to be marveling over the fact that this is a loaf of bread that’s been preserved for thousands of years, and don’t get me wrong, that’s hella cool. But honestly, I’m mostly struck by the unexpected news that “bread fraud” was apparently once a serious concern.
Let me tell you about the fake cronuts that are showing up on craigslist.
Bread fraud = stuff like using sawdust or dirt instead of flour. It was pretty damn common, and is but one of the things that makes me to laugh like a hyena when the ignorant start talking about the “pure, wholesome” food of days of yore.
In mediaeval London, and I presume other cities, where people were pretty much dependant on bakeries and other cookery-establishments for their food (because a: not enough room in your place of living, most likely, and b: large risk of burning it down), bread fraud could get your ear nailed to a piece of wood for first offence. Among other things, the inevitable scar left by yanking your ear off would warn future customers that you’d once been found guilty of this. Similar punishments were handed out for putting bad stuff in the ale that was the other part of the city-dweller’s daily fare.
In medieval England, in fact, bread fraud was such a problem that housewives would make their own bread dough, and bring that to the baker just for baking (rather than having a hot oven in their house). And then they STILL had to worry that the baker would steal their dough and replace it with crappy stuff.
Still waiting for that ancient rome + bakery + white collar crime AU.
Look, if y’all don’t think that the Bread Fraud fandom is the tightest shit, I don’t even know what to tell you.
And on the other other hand towns often caught up on a lot of gossip round the oven and the town often had a cat to look after the bakery. And contrary to modern belief these cats were named and loved. Admittedly some of the names were not very creative (mama cat) but they were loved.
Let’s see where my source is… Oh heck here:http://jillwheezul.livejournal.com/tag/bread
K. Barich has an embarassment of links and good research.
Sigh, I think her post on the momma cat was in a friend’s only page. Darn! But hey, above links about the kinds of breads and bakeries and marks and *nerd*….