Loaf of Rye Bread

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Loaf of Rye Bread


Black bread was, since time immemorial, a ubiquitous Russian food. Born out of climactic and economic necessity, black bread has been credited with giving the Russian peasantry the physical strength necessary to crush Napoleonic France, but also blamed for separation the Western and Eastern Christian communions. It was the abundance or shortage of black bread that caused or ended famines. However, with globalization, white bread became cheaper than black bread. While black bread is well known outside of Russia, consumption of black bread in Russia is greatly reduced.


Zachary Young


Wikipedia image for dark rye bread, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dark_rye_bread.JPG?uselang=ru. Recipe from About:Eastern European foods, http://easteuropeanfood.about.com/od/breads/r/blackbread.htm.


September 2, 2008


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Loaf of bread. Dimensions: roughly 1'x3"x3". Ingredients: rye flour, sourdough starter, molasses, high-gluten flour, whole fennel seed, instant yeast, salt, cocoa powder

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Darius Altman

I was struck by the image of the choice between religious unity and rye bread. As a huge fan of hearty rye bread, I am sad to see that it has lost some prominence due to globalization. I was also intrigued by climate change warming the Volga region and making wheat production more favorable.

Hunter Fortney

Similarly to Nancy and Michael, I also had no idea that black bread had such a important role in the east vs. west split of the church.  Overall, I thought that black bread is an excellent example of how Russians’ taste have changed over time. In the 18th and 19th centuries Russians and Russian soldiers complained when they were forced to switch from black to white bread. Now, when people have choice, black bread represents only 30% of bread consumption. To me, this represents the modernization and, really, the westernization of Russian culture and tastes. As I fan of black bread, those 70% really are missing out!

Nancy O'Neil

I enjoyed reading about the connections between black bread and religion! I had no idea that different churches used different breads for the celebration of the Eucharist. I loved how your essay showed the importance of black bread to Russia in a multitude of ways from military consumption of black bread to the use of black bread in fasts by Russian Orthodox clergy. 

Michael Sanders

Like Nancy, I had no idea that bread choice had played such a large role in the continuing of Rome-Byzantine split. It is incredible to think that religion took a second seat to bread preference. Though, it does match other Russian history in not liking being told what to do.

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