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 The History of Gavoi’s Bread


Since ages, the  bread is a basic food of the Mediterranean civilization. Not only numerous sacred texts but also some archaeological Egyptians rests testify its consumption, and moreover its importance is confirmed by the innumerable proverbs and ways of say referring to it. In the Sardinian popular tradition the custom to give the bread a particular shape, often also very complex and fanciful, is always present. Every village of our Island, even the smallest, has its own history of the bread, and discovering it would also result interesting and funny considering the prominent role of this food. Worthy of being mentioned, considering the importance that the bread manufacture has ever had, is a village situated in the centre of Barbagia,: Gavoi 


La tradizione 


The manufacture of the bread was a real rite which started with the sign of the cross on the people and on the flour, this gesture followed the invocation: in numene de deus and de Santa Rosa hi hessada bene husta hosa (in God and Saint Rose’s name we hope that this thing will turn out well). It was besides a custom to give the bread to any children and mendicant who turned up in the house that day, in fact they were offered the bread not yet toasted, Su Pane Modde (the Soft Bread).

The realization of the bread included different moments, each one very important and delicate. During the preliminary phase, the wheat, already worked in a copper or zinc boiler, (made in water, attu in abba), was then sieved in a special riddle, Su hillivru and finally placed to dry in great baskets, sas ingrandizolas. The dry wheat was picked up in sacks weaved with a loom. On the river Gusana was situated a water-Mill (later it was turned into a coal-mill, the coal was commonly called the poor gas), where the wheat was brought on donkey’s back for the grinding. The resulting flour was sieved twice, this operation was made to free it from the bran, sa granza and from the bran cruschello?. When the flour was ready  the date for the baking of the bread was settled. 

PREPARATION - The fateful day, people got up us very early, in the kitchen where the oven was situated they arranged the asphodel baskets, sas Horves, containing the flour to be turned into bread.

THE FERMENTATION - Still in the same receptacle they put the yeast to be used, consisting in a small amount of sour dough, S’ amentarzu. The day before the baking this  dough was dissolved in warm water together with some flour Sa mardighe, which was very important for the manufacture of the whole paste. As much as regards the moment of the manufacture, the flour was poured on a wood basin, Su lahu, then mixed with warm water. The slightly salty water already contained  the yeast dissolved into. The flour passed from the basin to the table where there were the women who kneaded  it, when this operation was finished the dough was let rest, until some little bubbles were formed inside of it. After the first fermentation the dough was cut into small pieces, su cordulonzu, and placed above cotton or flax clothes, sas tivazzas, covered with woollen clothes, sa Guresi,; the dough  so prepared was let rest for some time.

The Baking - During this phase the women sat on the floor, every woman had in front of them Su Tazzeri, an oval shaped pinewood, and held in his hand a rolling-pin, su hanneddu. One of the women rolled out the dough on the table top and using the rolling-pin conferred it a rudimentary oval shape. The layer was then given to a second person who, after having worked it, passed it to the woman beside her who had to give it a more regular shape. After doing it she  passed it to a fourth  woman who pushed the bread inside the oven using a wood shovel. When the bread was baked it was removed from the oven, let it make cold, sized in two parts (fresau), and finally placed on a stacked table of forty or fifty loafs, (Sas Fresas). The loafs were then baked a second time to be toasted: the purpose of this was to remove the damp and preserve them for a long time: (Ahere in Fresa). To prevent the  bread from becoming hard they kept it in a dry place wounded in special tablecloths. The Fresa bread could be: Voledu: white bread made with flour and bran of hard wheat ; Hiarzu, wholemeal bread; Temperinu: bread with a small quantity of cruschello; Orzatu: barley bread. 




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