“…whenever the loaf is put on the table, few foods will produce such joy and delight in others as when freshly baked bread appears, the aroma of fresh memories rising with every slice, and all things – poetry and miracles, friends and family, food and love – for a short time are as they ought be: one.”
Richard Flanagan, from The Food of Love.
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.