According to the German Bread Institute, there are 3,200 kinds of bread in this country. One important reason for this extraordinary diversity is political: the fragmentation of what today is Germany into as many as 340 different states, city-states and duchies for a period lasting from the end of the 13th century through most of the 19th century. Bread varied, and still does, from one town to the next, its distinct textures, flavors and shapes rooted in local traditions.
In Northern European fairytales, bread is meant to be shared. The miserly woman who withholds bread from her poor hungry sister to her horror sees blood gush from the fresh loaf she cuts for supper (“God’s Food,” collected by the Brothers Grimm). A selfish girl who steps onto the loaf of bread she is meant to deliver to her old mother because she wants to keep her shoes clean, is swallowed up by the bog and sinks down all the way into the terrifying realm of the Marsh-Wife, the Elf-King’s sister (“The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf “, by Hans Christian Andersen). I was therefore delighted to find the Lithuanian folktale of the little wheat roll that runs away from its human and animal pursuers only to be waylaid by the fox. The fox bites it in half, eats the soft crumb and then … Well, see, it’s hard for me to tell you the rest of the story. To hold a fresh loaf of bread in my hands, whispering with oven heat, seems to me an act of worship that transcends time and place and culture, no matter how many kinds of bread there are.
A little about myself:
Hello there and thank you for visiting my website! I have lived in Spain, Mexico, France and the United States, but now make my home in Germany. I have a Ph.D. in Literary Studies and a Master's in TESOL, and have published several books for children, among them El Loro Tico Tango and El Fandango de Lola, a 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Book. As a writer and an artist I'm in constant conversation with my own anxious mind even as I celebrate the joyful possibilities of our crazy, incomprehensible world.