Reader Derek wrote in on Friday to alert me to the fact that on one of Michael Palin’s exellent travel shows, he enjoyed a bedouin feast in which the bread was not baked on a hot rock, but rather on sand. The transcript of the show reads thusly:
“Akide Osman is making bread, kneading the dough into a flat disc. Once the embers of the fire are hot enough, he rakes them to one side and lays the bread on the hot sand, first one side, then the other, after which he piles sand and glowing embers on top, creating an instant oven. …Twenty minutes later, the round of bread is exhumed, and, after the charcoal and sand have been dusted off, it’s passed down the line. It’s not quite what I expected, being much harder, stickier and sweeter than bread.”
For the sake of [Palin’s] teeth I hope he only ate the bread’s guts 🙂
Yes, I’d expect that a lifetime of eating bread like that would tend to be rather hard on one’s teeth. In fact we forget that until only very recently, bread was quite hard on everyone’s teeth. This was due to the abrasive impurities that found their way into flour, notably millstone grit, which ground people’s teeth down to nubs as recently as the late 1800’s.
For those of you who are interested in seeing what the bedouin bread making process looks like, I found a full video of the process right here. Pretty neat. My favorite bit is when the baker pats off the sand and ash, right at the end.