Bread-making truly is an art. Not only does bread connect us to our hands as we knead the dough and connect us to our bellies, as it is nourishing and filling; bread-making connects us to our local community. As every place has their own way and history of making bread, it is a metaphor for life requiring labor, patience, creativity and enjoyment. It is a bonding experience between human beings. The process is artistically engaging as the dough is like clay sculpted into a beautiful form, and then heated–except that bread is shared and eaten at the end.
I realized this a couple weeks ago when I started participating in bread-making workshops up in the mountains of San Cristóbal Verapaz. Miguel is the facilitator. He learned how to bake bread in the town of San Cristóbal a couple years back. Now he makes his own bread for his community, in a wood-fired oven that he built on his own with no guidance. He has inspired others to learn his trade, and people from other communities in the area come every other Saturday to learn the art of bread-making. From sweet bread to donuts, he reveals the magic combination of flour, water and yeast, plus a couple of other ingredients. After the bread is made, it is then divided up to be eaten and distributed to family and friends–a true community gathering.
Since FUNDENOR provides funds for the ingredients, I have participated in the past couple workshops. This Saturday, I will have the opportunity to facilitate the next workshop with Miguel, and demonstrate how to make more nutritious breads that Miguel does not know how to make, such as whole wheat bread. Sometimes unnecessary processed and artificial ingredients are added to the recipes Miguel knows. I plan to share a more sustainable way to make bread, that uses local instead of manufactured ingredients, and in the end it is more nutritious and less expensive. When the series of bread workshops are finished, we hope that the community members will want to build their own oven from local materials such as clay, mud and straw.
These bread workshops have created the space for community members to make something together, learn from each other and connect, instead of each participant spending the Saturday at home. With only a little bit of flour and water, we human beings are able to feed our hunger and connect with one another. We are slowly rising, just as the bread rises. And while we wait for the bread to rise and bake, we communicate, share stories and build a sustainable community.