From chapati to sourdough, pork buns to injera and from roti to bannock, bread brings people together.
In 2020, when people across the globe were staying indoors, separated from their families, friends and the world, many turned to bread making. We named and nurtured our sourdough starter while flour and yeast were flying off the shelves, uniting us in one of the oldest practices in human history.
Throughout the pandemic, many turned to social media to share photos and stories about their breadmaking adventures and even those who didn’t dabble in sourdough channeled their inner artist by making garden focaccia.
A new exhibit at Lougheed House reveals Calgary’s history with bread, the history of sourdough, and the stories of four Calgary bakers who are keeping their culture’s bread tradition alive. “YYC Bread Stories” is an exhibit currently on display to the public sharing stories of families, histories and the yearning for community, all united by bread.
Visit and learn about the 30,000-year history of this staple food, and why Calgary used to have a bakery on almost every street corner. Owners of local restaurants like Sidewalk Citizen, Carriage House Inn, Foster’s Bakery/Oguraya Bakery and Masala Bhavan share their own bread stories, and the exhibit illuminates both the facts of humanity’s history with sourdough as well as the deeper spiritual aspects of our interspecies “collaboration” with the yeasts and bacteria needed to make bread. The exhibit contains bread-related artifacts from long ago and from today, recipes and details on the early history of bakeries in Calgary.
Emily Hoven, now doing her PhD thesis on sourdough at the University of Alberta, is Co-Curator of YYC Bread Stories. “People are drawn to bread because bread is about relationships,” Hoven says. “When we take care of a sourdough starter, for instance, we are nurturing an interspecies relationship with the starter’s microbial life, the yeasts and bacteria. Through these relationships, we create loaves of bread, which we can then share with other humans when we gather to consume it. On both a microbial and a community level, bread is about connections.”
YYC Bread Stories is Co-curated by Emily Haven, Katarina Hoven and Lougheed House Associate Curator Erin Benedictson. On now – June 26 during Lougheed House opening hours. Visit Lougheed House for more information.
Photos provided by Lougheed House