by Diga Maria
The Brazilian food culture has its origin as cassava as the main source of carbohydrate. We inherited from the indigenous people the habit of eating this cooked tuberous root, even at breakfast, although nowadays this is less frequent and has gained the accompaniment of butter and honey. Currently, its most popular consumption is through tapioca, an artisanal (or industrial) product obtained from cassava processing.
The bread arrived in Brazil with the Portuguese colonization, but it was the Italian immigrants who spread it through a bread with dark shell and kernel; a tropical version of the Italian bread. The popularization of bread consumption only happened between the nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth century. In 1905, an enormous European brand associated with agribusiness was installed in São Paulo; it started to operate two wheat mills, one in São Paulo and another in Rio de Janeiro, and consolidated an industrial chain. The cycle was as follows: cotton from the Brazilian Northeast was transformed into raw material for the textile industry, which made bags for the ground wheat. The cotton waste turned oil, and they came to the market in the form of vegetable fat and margarine. This same company was responsible for the advertising on the benefits of bread and the quality of the wheat flour in the Brazilian market in the first decades of the twentieth century. It was born a Brazilian habit that is consolidated to this day: the consumption of French bread, whose recipe was probably brought by the Brazilian elite who, on their trips to Paris, used to consume a bread that was fashionable there, with golden shells and soft kernels; it was the forerunner of the baguette.
The French bread we eat here is not like the bread we eat in France. Our bread of European inspiration has arrived in Brazil with the use of dry yeast - instead of fresh yeast -, it can lead sugar and fat in the mass and its total production cycle lasts between 2.30-3h. Even though it is some distance from the quality of the bread that inspired it, French bread - also called a "cacetinho" or "bread of salt", depending on the region of Brazil - is a mandatory presence on the morning table of the Brazilian. To get an idea, only in the city of São Paulo, 15 million of this bread is produced daily. It represents more than one bread per inhabitant. Each person in this region eats on average 45 kg of French bread a year.
But not only of French bread - responsible for about 23% of profit - lives a bakery. It is also a decoy for Brazilian bakeries, whose format is very different from what we find in the world. Brazilian bakeries are places where people can have breakfast, lunch and dinner. They sell bread, cheese, ham, cakes, sweets, milk, juices, soft drinks, sweet and savory pies, pizzas, soups, sandwiches and various salty foods. In general it is in the bakery that people pass through at the end of the day, on their way back to home, to buy bread and items for the evening snack. This is another Brazilian habit: to snack instead of dinner. This model is so attractive that it has won foreign investors and has become a benchmark of business for the world. Investors came to know the concept of Brazilian bakeries through industry fairs, according to the president of Sindipan (Union of Pantry Industries of the State of São Paulo), Antero José Pereira. This trend led to "Brazilian Bakery", a model bakery that is presented to the world at international bakery fairs. Created from a partnership between Apex (Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments) and Abiepan (Brazilian Association of Equipment Industries, Accessories for Bakery), Abip (Brazilian Association of the Bakery Industry) and Sindipan, "Brazilian Bakery" facilitated the approximation between foreign investors and Brazilian sellers. Bakeries with this concept have already been created in Germany, Mexico and Portugal. And one of the most important names in Brazilian breadmaking, Rogério Shimura, was invited to open a bakery in Japan.
This business model has already been consolidated in Brazil and trends are focused on increasing and segmenting this mix of own-made products. Gluten-free and/or lactose-free breads, cakes and pastries, and items that indicate healthiness, such as whole grain breads, with organic wheat flour, with fiber. Another trend that came to Brazil about 5 years ago and which is now becoming popular in some traditional bakeries is bread with natural fermentation. Until recently the sourdough breads were restricted to homemade bakeries, but now they begin to gain space in gourmet bakeries in the main Brazilian cities and even in some elite supermarkets. We do not know if this trend will reach all social classes, since the longer the bread production time, the more expensive it will cost. But it is certain that, being a salaried man or a great businessman, there will always be a democratic french bread in there hands.