Developing eLearning Resources: The nutritional properties of bread and its significance in traditional Cypriot cuisine

And when you eat the crust of bread,
as it is often said,
if you don’t become a vicar
you shall marry a vicar’s daughter.”

Excerpt from a Cypriot folk poem

How did Cypriot folk literature draw inspiration from bread and which customs and practices of social life reveal the importance of this particular food in the culture of Cyprus? By which means and methods was bread being produced and how widespread was its consumption on the island over the past centuries, in comparison to today? What is the nutritional value of bread and why is it considered to hold a place at the base of the Mediterranean diet pyramid?

The answers to these questions, and many others, can be found in an eLearning Resource entitled “The nutritional properties of bread and its significance in traditional Cypriot cuisine” («Το ψωμί των Κυπρίων: καθημερινός βίος και παράδοση»).

The eLearning Resource has been developed by the Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum within the Europeana Food and Drink Project, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus. It is currently available in Greek and forms a complete and well-structured 4 teaching-hours lesson plan, adjusted to the Cypriot High School curriculum. It is intended to be used by Home Economics teachers in 2nd year High School classrooms from the current school year onwards, as well as by educators in general.

Cypriot bread, dahtylies. Source: Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum. Picture: Marios Hadjianastasis.
Cypriot bread, dahtylies. Source: Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum. Picture: Marios Hadjianastasis.

The Resource is richly populated with texts, photographs and links mostly deriving from the Cyprus Food Museum’s digital collections, as well as from Europeana. These materials reveal interesting facts about the role of bread within the traditional Cypriot cuisine. They demonstrate pre-industrial cultivation tools and cooking utensils indicative of a past lifestyle, offer information on the production and consumption of various kinds of bread in everyday life and in different social instances, and showcase practices and beliefs relating to the importance of bread. For example, did you know that after childbirth, Cypriots used to place bread next to the newly born infant, in order to protect it from maleficent forces?

Did you know that after childbirth, Cypriots used to place bread next to the newly born infant, in order to protect it from maleficent forces?

As an educational tool, the Resource promotes the utilization of the students’ pre-existing knowledge and experiences in order to facilitate comprehension and learning. The underlying teaching methods are designed to promote inquiry based and cooperative learning, while featured activities include brainstorming, group games, role-playing, guided discussions over student’s observations on educational materials, excursions/field studies, food tasting and implementation of small projects.

Wheat cultivation tools. Source: Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum. Picture: Cyprus Handicraft Service.
Wheat cultivation tools. Source: Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum. Picture: Cyprus Handicraft Service.

Through the development of a set of eLearning Resources, including the present one focusing on bread, the Europeana Food and Drink partners aspire to demonstrate the value and potential of food and drink-related content sourced through Europeana. In parallel, we aim to equip educators with suitable educational materials, in order to effectively communicate to younger audiences the idea of a healthy diet in relation to the traditional diet; to acquaint children and adolescents with the gastronomic history and dietary traditions of their country, to educate them on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and to highlight ways in which traditional diet can be adjusted to nowadays life style and tastes for achieving healthy living.

In order to efficiently advance these causes, the eLearning Resource is openly available, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This means that public and private educational institutions, teachers, etc. can download and use it for online and offline activities. Moreover, they can also modify and redistribute it.

For all those interested, you can find and download the Resource here. We look forward to your feedback and suggestions, and we encourage you to share with us any modified version of the materials provided, in order to further promote dialogue and creativity in education.

 

By Petroula Hadjittofi, Cyprus Food and Nutrition Museum

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