MEMORIES OF HEARTH BAKED BREAD WITH LUCIANO THE BAKER (VALDIGEM, PORTUGAL)
â€“ By Lee Stubis, CX Traveler
“The aroma of baking bread greeted us as our Culture Xplorers group entered the small room where Luciano was already busy pulling paddles of golden, round loaves of bread from the large wood-burning stove into baskets. Once all these hand-crafted loaves were in baskets, Luciano would deliver them to restaurants in the Douro Valley region of Portugal.
While Luciano continued to remove bread from the oven, his wife set out cheese, butter and, of course, a loaf of the hearth baked bread for us to try. As I looked on the round loaves, heard the crunch as the knife sliced into the warm bread, and then tasted the breadâ€™s outer crustiness and inner soft center slathered with butter, I knew one slice would not be enough.
Once all the loaves had been removed from the oven, Luciano told us of his baking process, of his old oven, and about the firewood he used. I greedily ate more with butter and cheese while listening to Luciano and his wife tell us of the family tradition of passing the bread baking from generation to generation. I was reluctant to leave, but it was time for Luciano to make his deliveries. We were already walking down the road when he called us back for …the port!
He wanted to share a glass of his personal stock of port wine, of which he was very proud. We were happy to do so. It was as wonderful and his delicious bread. Will I ever be lucky enough to start another day with breakfast of delicious hearth baked, crusty yet moist bread with cheese and port wine? I hope so.â€
Thank you to Lee Stubis, CX Traveler, for sharing this great experience!