From sourdough to injera, roti to bannock, a new exhibit in Calgary delves into the city’s history with bread.

Calgary once had a bakery on every corner, said Lougheed House associate curator Erin Benedictson.

“Getting your bread from the bakery was a way for you to get out and interact with your peers,” she said.

Along with bits of bakery history borrowed from Fort Calgary and Heritage Park, there will be bread from several local businesses: Sidewalk Citizen, Carriage House Inn, Foster’s Bakery, Oguraya Bakery and Masala Bhavan. The bakeries will share stories about their sourdough, challah, shokupan and dosa – some dating back to 1926.

Chefs Karthikeyan Stalin and his brother Muthukumar Stalin make naan at Masala Bhavan South Indian Cuisine. The restaurant shares the story of its dosa at the YYC Bread Stories exhibition. (Submitted by Lougheed House)

“It’s flour and water. And yet, despite those few ingredients, there are hundreds of different types of breads around the world. And every culture has some kind of bread,” Benedictson said.

Over the past two years, many Calgarians have embraced pandemic baking, trying banana bread and sourdough recipes, which inspired the exhibit, Benedictson said.

“At the start of the pandemic, everyone was huddled at home and a lot of people turned to bread making. Flour was really hard to come by, yeast was scarce for a while.

“I think the vast majority of us buy our bread from the store. It’s something that’s been around for so long. [Baking bread is] something many of us don’t really do anymore. And yet, we all started doing it again.”

A 1930s flour sack dress, made from five flour sacks and yarn from another flour sack. Created for a dance in Fort St. John, BC (Submitted by Lougheed House)

Bread is so simple but a staple in almost every culture, said Emily Hoven, another exhibit curator, along with her sister Katarina Hoven. Emily is also working on a PhD in bread at the University of Alberta.

“It’s a simple food, it’s just flour, water and yeast. There’s something really basic about it…There’s something universal about it,” Hoven said.

YYC Bread Stories opened Thursday and will run through June 26.

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