Oltenia Corn Flour Flatbread

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The corn flour flatbread is made from a dough of two parts corn flour and one part wheat flour. It was documented in hilly Oltenia region, where corn, rather than wheat is the predominant cereal crop. A sugary porridge is boiled and then the mixture is kneaded into a dough, together with wheat flour. Traditionally, a typical wooden kneading pot is used (which was also used as a baby cradle in the countryside). It is baked in a traditional clay or brick oven. The end result is a flat bread with a dense consistency and a slighty sweet taste that keeps well for a week, wrapped in a hemp cloth. Once dried, it can be converted into bread crumbs and used as soup thickener.The product’s history is connected with the history of cereal consumption from early modern period Romania. When it was introduced in the Romanian peasant diet, corn slowly replaced millet, as it was a more productive crop. It was also used instead of wheat, which was heavily taxed by the Ottoman Empire and was also attractive as a cash crop. Corn flour products are devalued today due to their connotations of poor man’s food, in the context of lack of interest in this type of cuisine. Moreover, the standardized, mass consumption of convenience wheat bread is another cause of the decline in interest for such alternative breads. The traditional bread oven associated with the preparation of this bread is also becoming a rare sight, as well as the number of artisans who have the knowledge to build it.

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