For at least 6000 years, people have summoned sourdough starter seemingly out of the air and combined it with milled wheat, water, and a dash of salt to produce The Staff of Life: Bread. Join us as Professor Eric Pallant slices into a 6,000-year journey through history. We will see why bread was the greatest invention of all time (not the slicer). We will meet ancient Egyptian pyramid builders, bygone Roman bakers, medieval housewives, Gold Rush miners, and historical celebrities like Plato, Pliny the Elder, and Marie Antoinette.
Then we will watch bread fall into deserved disrespect at the end of the twentieth century. Commercial yeast will displace sourdough as bread’s primary leavening agent, machines will replace hands as the tools of manufacture, and monetary efficiency will take the place of flavor as pale squidgy loaves march forth by the millions looking and tasting like they were made by a photocopier. Finally, we will consider the rise of a new artisanal bread culture and see how modern bakers are remaking our bread economy and repurposing our fundamental human connection with food.
Eric Pallant is the author of the recently released Sourdough Culture: The History of Bread Making from Ancient to Modern Bakers. He is a serious amateur baker, a two-time Fulbright Scholar, double, award-winning professor, and the Christine Scott Nelson Endowed Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability at Allegheny College, in Meadsville, Pennsylania. He is acknowledged for his skill in weaving research narratives into compelling stories for NPR, CNN, Foreign Policy, the Gresham Lecture Series, London, bread symposia, podcasts, and articles for magazines such as Gastronomica, Sierra, and Science. You can learn more about him at Eric Pallant – Author & Professor.
Wednesday, July 20, 2022
7 p.m. Central Time
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