Bread of Dreams

The bread of the poor, of those dressed in rags, the unemployed, and especially of those who produced it, the peasants, victims of a paradoxical social and economic logic, was bread forever fleeting, as elusive as a slow-motion nightmare of interminable length. In lean years, the time of the next harvest was dreamed of, in longing expectation, beginning in late autumn: of summer and its fruits, the season in which one could re-experience the taste of the pan novelo (new bread).

The character of Menego in Ruzante's Dialogo facetissimo, performed during the famine of 1528, counts on his fingers the months that separate him from 'the fleeting bread':

January, February, March, April, May and half of June as well, until wheat. (Sigh!) Oh, we shall never make it! Blast, but it's a good long year, this one. I know the bread frees from us, indeed it does, more than sparrows from the falcon.

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