For many centuries, baking in most Italian villages took place mostly once a week or even a fortnight. Both my grandparents told me how they recalled the women of the village taking their dough to the forno (often the only oven in the entire village), and that each piece of dough had an identifying mark on it for when the women came back to collect their baked bread.
In Palmi, Calabria my great, great grandmother and bisnonna baked for their area in a large, wood-fired oven or forno in a room beneath their house.
While I’d heard these stories and have been to the village forno I had never seen any pictures so I was thrilled when photographer, Carla Coulson recently sent me this Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph. It was taken in 1953 in the Abruzzese town of Scanno as women were carrying their dough to the forno for baking.
4 responses to “Freshly baked bread…”
I never tire looking at pictures of women carrying things on their heads. What balance and grace.
Hi Karen, yes I know what you mean. I think this struck me with my Bisnonna in Calabria one of the bakers with her own forno, but then my Bisnonna in Abruzzo carried those large copper conca of water on her head. The largest item I’m aware of an Italian woman carrying on her head is an iron bedhead!
Thank you for writing this.
Much appreciated, Stanley. x