Bread: Rites and Traditions

The art of baking homemade bread is increasingly restricted to the elderly population, who insist on maintaining the traditions of their youth. Making bread is an arduous and physically demanding task. Those who knead bread, usually women, have ancestral knowledge and rites that have been passed down from generation to generation. Bread is usually baked in traditional ovens, which were a centerpiece of the dwelling, if any, and of the locality, in the case of community ovens. These were built in places with easy access to the population and it was up to the overseer (man) to light the oven, treat the wood and put the bread to be baked. The recovery of these practices allows not only the valorization of the knowledge of the older populations and the guarantee of their perpetuation in future generations, but also the maintenance of physical activity, through the practice of practices that are known to them. Seeking to perpetuate this tradition through the videos and testimonies of participants, Maria Gonçalves explained to us and showed us the art of baking bread.

N. OF VIDEOS: 5 | PARTNER: IPG | COUNTRY: PORTUGAL | ELEMENT OF EUROPEAN CULTURAL HERITAGE: MEDITERRANEAN DIET; RITUALS AND TRADITIONS
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Part 1| Kneading 
 Maria Nélia is a retired lady, with a history of life linked to the countryside and agriculture. She learned from her grandmother how to knead and bake bread. The bread was baked every 15 days and there was plenty at home. When she started her own family, she continued to bake homemade bread and never needed to buy it.

INTERVIEWEE NAME: MARIA GONÇALVES
AGE: 68 YEARS OLD
ROLE: RETIRED  
ACTIVE AGING FACTORS: Healthy diet, Physical activity, Cognitive stimulation, Lifelong learning, Give a meaning to life

Part  2| Preparing the oven 
While the bread is leavening it is necessary to prepare the oven. First, it is necessary to collect the wood, which must be very dry, to heat the oven. When families come together at the oven, it is always a moment of conviviality, which allows them to remember old stories and revive traditions. Often, potatoes were roasted on the embers removed from the oven to eat with olives.

INTERVIEWEE NAME: MARIA GONÇALVES
AGE: 68 YEARS OLD
ROLE: RETIRED  
ACTIVE AGING FACTORS: Healthy diet, Physical activity, Cognitive stimulation, Social connectedness, Lifelong learning, Give a meaning to life

Part 3| haping the dough 
After the yeasted dough, a task that takes a few hours, the task of rolling out the dough begins. Rolling out the bread is to form small breads of the thin dough, with the help of the blade and the most skilled hands, which keep the secret of the experience. The small breads are placed on a tray, wrapped in flour and covered with a white sheet, kept religiously for the purpose. After the process is finished and the oven ready, they are placed to cook.

INTERVIEWEE NAME: MARIA GONÇALVES
AGE: 68 YEARS OLD
ROLE: RETIRED  
ACTIVE AGING FACTORS: Healthy diet, Physical activity, Cognitive stimulation, Social connectedness, Give a meaning to life

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Part 4| Putting the dough in the oven 
After being rolled out the small breads require an oven quickly. There has to be agility and physical dexterity to complete this process, as the oven was not always close to the place where the bread was kneaded. Once in the oven, pour a little flour into the shovel and place the breads one by one to bake. When this task is over, the oven door is covered and an Our Father and Hail Mary are said and the wait is made in the faith that the bread will grow.

INTERVIEWEE NAME: MARIA GONÇALVES
AGE: 68 YEARS OLD
ROLE: RETIRED  
ACTIVE AGING FACTORS: Healthy diet, Physical activity, Cognitive stimulation, Lifelong learning, Give a meaning to life

Part  5| Bread out of the oven  
When the bread begins to brown (golden tone on top), it is baked. It’s time for Maria Gonçalves to take it out of the oven, with the help of her husband. When you take it out, you hit it from below. If the sound is hollow the bread is done. The breads, one by one, are placed on the wooden tray to cool, covered with the same sheet that saw them leaven. there is always bread to share with a sick neighbor. Sharing takes on its fullness in these simple and modest communities.

INTERVIEWEE NAME: MARIA GONÇALVES
AGE: 68 YEARS OLD
ROLE: RETIRED  
ACTIVE AGING FACTORS: Healthy diet, Social connectedness, Give a meaning to life

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