Bread – Baking

George Rodger, Korongo Nuba women making bread from Dhoura meal in the granary (tukl) room of a Mesakin house, Kordofan, Sudan, 1949 (371.1989)

Bill Owens, Baker with dough machine, 1974 (2393.2005)

Leonard McCombe, Baking bread, a woman kneels by the fire while loaf cooks on crude metal grill. This native bread is a major item of Navajo diet, 1948 (1094.2005)

Dan Israel, This Bronx baker is thrifty but hot because it’s 120 at oven, thrifty because he made diapers out of a flour sack, 1940 (2012.121.17) [This photo was originally published in PM on July 28, 1940, in a ten photo page spread of hot, sweaty men (including Mayor La Guardia) working, illustrating the headline: “They’d Sooner Be at the Beach But, Heat or No Heat, Jobs Are Scarce,” along with one of the greatest Weegee self portraits: “Weegee, the wag, finished up the day by taking his own picture [while showering!] in the darkroom. Note camera release in his hand.”]

Robert Capa, [Woman baking bread indoors, Aktau, USSR, now Kazakhstan], 1947 (2010.91.468)

“In the kitchen the women put on a show too. The fire roared in the new white oven, and the flat cakes of good rye bread were baking, and the eggs were frying, and the borscht was bubbling. Outside the rain poured down, so we didn’t feel bad, for we were not interfering with their work in harvest time, they couldn’t have been working with the grain anyway.
John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, pp.82-84.

Robert Capa, [Woman baking bread in a factory, Kiev, now Kyiv, Ukraine], 1947 (2010.91.368)

From the market we went to a gigantic bakery, where the black bread is baked for the whole city. The manager put white coats on us before we could enter. Part of the bakery is in ruins and is being rebuilt and enlarged. The manager told us that while the city was under siege the bakery had continued to work, and even while bombs were falling on the buildings, the ovens had turned out bread.
There were mountains of bread. It was a completely mechanized bakery, with mixers, kneaders, baking ovens all automatic. The great chains of black bread come through the oven and drop off and are piled on the carts to go out to the city.
John Steinbeck, A Russian Journal, p. 111.

It’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m just loafing around… Although this post started as a very small joke: a colleague (not a companion, “a person who you eat bread with”) asked what I was blogging about, and just to be funny, I said “bread.” Not surprisingly, the photos related to baking, acquiring, preparing and eating bread, an ancient, fundamental and ubiquitous food, are as nutritious, rich and varied as the language and idioms surrounding bread, and of course, bread itself, in it’s many forms, from baguette to zwieback, from black bread to pretzel croissant, from lavash to naan… In fact, there are so many great bread photos in the archive that it was difficult to choose which to include in this little post; it was so difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, that this is the first part of a projected four part series on bread photos. Fortunately the quantity of bread photos in the archive is rising. Collectively, these documentary photos do not depict the upper crust of society, like a lord (“keeper of bread”) or lady (“kneader of bread”), yet, socially, aesthetically, and financially they are presumably worth a lot of, and document, dough. If it’s true that one cannot live by bread alone, then perhaps one can live on bread and photography. Anachronistically, photography might be the best thing since sliced bread, perhaps instant photography, Polaroid, would make a better sentence… (Robert Capa, a hero to many, made a variety of great photos of people baking bread, mostly in Russia, and eating bread, mostly during the Spanish Civil War, was really on a roll.)

The origin of the word bread: “Old English brēad, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch brood and German Brot.” History of bread on
Well, I know which side my bread is buttered on, enough of my stale, crumbly, yet yeasty prose: bread in different languages from Google translate and a link to a Google image search (just another half baked experiment)…
Bon appétit!

brood – Afrikaans
bukë – Albanian
ogia – Basque
hljeb – Bosnian
pa – Catalan
tinapay – Cebuano
kruh – Croatian
chléb – Czech
brød – Danish
brood – Dutch
pano – Esperanto
leib – Estonian
tinapay – Filipino
leipä – Finnish
pain – French
pan – Galician
brot – German
pen – Haitian Creole
gurasa – Hausa
mov ci – Hmong
kenyér – Hungarian

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1 Response to Bread – Baking

  1. Pingback: Bread – Preparing | Fans in a Flashbulb

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