Traveller: Ah … good morning, respected farmer, greetings to you. I saw the smoke from far away. And then smelt the heavenly aroma. Then I thought: there must surely be a bakery around.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Hmm!?
Traveller: You know, I am travelling through Westphalia for the first time and am extremely curious. Could I possibly have a look at your bakery? Your bread, I have heard so much about it. This...err...pumpernickel.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Dark bread!
Traveller: Oh, what a gloriously strange name. Even Voltaire has written about it.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Who?
Traveller: Well Voltaire of course! The French philosopher?! Lived in the times of “Old Fritz” - King Fredrick II. Does that ring a bell? ... Let me look up quickly, what he said
about the bread. Oh yes, here it is: “A certain hard stone, dark and sticky, that according to reports is made from a type of rye.” But Voltaire, the old mocker, one cannot believe everything he says. That is why I wanted to taste and decide for myself.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Aha. Not everyone can take our bread. It is made from rye flour. There is no battering involved so the bran is still there. One has to be able to take it. We country folk are used to it; we have been eating it since childhood.
Traveller: You surely mean the digestive effect, I have heard of it before.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Yes, it`s certainly can one break wind.
Traveller: Ah yes…that explains the strange name. I have also heard that it could have something to do with a Frenchman. Not Voltaire this time, but a soldier. He wanted to buy bread and said “Bon pour Nickel”, which meant ‘good enough for his horse’.
But...may I now try it out myself?
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: If you like! Cut a small piece out. It’s been in the oven for a whole day now. The next batch of fresh bread will be available again only in two weeks.
Traveller: Oh-oh! That is quite heavy. Definitely 20 kg, isn’t it? But ... not bad at all, somehow sweetish.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: That has to do with our sour dough and the lactobacilli. They break down the starch into milk and acetic acids, which increases the sugar content. The sugar caramelises later in the baking process and that is why we get the dark colour.
Traveller: Superb...can I perhaps buy half a loaf? My friends back home in Berlin must taste this.
Farmer Caspar Heinrich: Ah I see, he’s Prussian...there we have at least something in common. Happy journey!
Foto: Bielefelder BauernhausMuseum