German bread – the most varied in the world
'Why does Germany of all places have so many different types of bread?' asks Hamid Boukheraz from Morocco. Yes, why indeed? Germany is thought to be the country with the largest choice of types of bread.
Around the country, there well over 300 different sorts, some of which even have regional variations. There are several reasons for this enormous diversity. One is that many types of cereal, such as wheat, spelt and rye, are native to Germany. Another is that German bakers complete a high standard, creative training which most other countries do not have. This has produced a culture of craftsmanship that makes German bread a staple food in its own right, not just a simple accompaniment to a meal.
Bread types – a world heritage
Because bread is so important in Germany it’s not very surprising that a talking loaf of bread named Bernd has become a popular character among German children. The comedy series 'Bernd das Brot' – starring an eternally bad-tempered loaf of bread named Bernd – was first shown by the children's channel KI.KA in 2000. But the Germans are planning even bigger things for their bread. In 2011 the Association of German Artisanal Bakers began to collect bread recipes in preparation for its application to UNESCO. The plan is to be admitted to the World Heritage List alongside Chinese acupuncture and Argentinian tango. 'We want to preserve the bread culture that has naturally developed in Germany over the centuries,' explains Peter Bäcker, the Association's President. 'So we hope to make it onto the list by the end of 2012.'
German bread abroad
True enough, in many countries around the world German bread has become a brand all of its own. There are German bakeries in Canada, Australia, the UK, India and the US, among others. Their customers are typically tourists from Germany, but also many people who once studied or worked in Germany – because once you've tasted German bread, you never forget the great taste of it. 'When I lived in Germany, not a day went by when I didn't eat bread. (...) I can actually taste and smell that lovely German bread while I am typing this,' writes Puneet from India. Bourahima from Mali also has fond memories of German bread. 'I was very impressed by the shapes and varieties of German bread. No matter what kind, it's all very nutritious,' he remembers.
Baker – an endangered trade
Having returned to their home countries, Felix Barnes from Ghana and Mamadou Mbaye from Senegal have to do without the German bread they enjoyed so much when they lived in Germany. There are no German bakeries yet in either Ghana or Senegal. But even in Germany the number of artisan bakers is in decline, which is due to stiff competition from supermarkets that sell bread at low prices. What's more, there are fewer and fewer young people with an interest in learning the strenuous trade. Still, for Felix Barnes, 'German bread is simply the best!'