Bread in Italy
I'm back from my trip to Italy and just wanted to share a bit of bread info that seemed strange to me.
First of all, bread was not my main purpose for being there, so my observations are sort of just a result of where we were and happened to eat. We travelled mostly in the areas between Milan, Parma and Florence, and most of that was on small roads and in small towns. For some reason I couldn't find any bakeries - just stores that sold bread and cakes.
No matter where we ate the bread and rolls all seemed to be made from the same dough - lean, mostly white, and almost tasteless. The crumb texture was very soft, even and fine, but the crust was always very pale, so pale that they looked only par-baked and unmistakably hard. Not delicately crisp or chewy, just hard. When we finally managed to break or cut off a piece, the whole table was full of crumbs! Maybe this is only popular for that specific area, but there were no big holes, no moist and chewy crumb, no crackly or deeply coloured crusts at all.
One thing that that we really did enjoy was the way we were served focaccia in a coffee shop in Florence. Even though it seemed to be a repeat of the same dough again, the top was brushed with olive oil. Before serving it was split down the center, filled with different cheeses and vegetables, reheated just slightly and cut into small wedges to be served as snacks. One of them was very pretty - they embedded a zuccini flower on top but I think that was done as the dough was rising because it looked almost as if it was a picture painted on the focaccia.
I was hoping to see more variety but maybe next time in a different area.