The chapter provides a nostalgic view of the traditional practice of bread-making in Goa, highlighting the enduring role of local bakers, known as 'paders'. The author takes us on a journey through the cultural significance of these bakers in Goan society, particularly during the Portuguese era.
The chapter begins with the author's elders reminiscing about the good old Portuguese days when the famous loaves of bread were a significant part of everyday life. The author mentions how the bread-eaters might have vanished, but the tradition of bread-making still persists. The old furnaces are still in use, and the profession continues to be passed down from one generation to the next.
The author recounts the daily routine of the bakers who used to visit homes twice a day, carrying their bamboo baskets filled with bread. The author nostalgically recalls the unique sound of the baker's bamboo hitting the ground, signalling his arrival and the smell of fresh bread wafting through the air. The author humorously shares how as children, they would eagerly await the baker's arrival, not for the loaves of bread, which were typically bought by the housemaid, but for the bread-bangles which they cherished.
The baker played an essential role in the Goan community, marking his presence at all significant events. Bread was indispensable for marriage gifts, parties, feasts, and festivals such as Christmas. The baker was an iconic figure, remembered for his distinct attire—a single-piece long frock called 'kabai' during the Portuguese era, and shirt and trousers that were neither full-length nor half pants during the author's childhood.
The chapter concludes by reflecting on the prosperity of the bakers. They would collect their bills at the end of the month, maintaining their accounts on a wall in pencil. Baking was a profitable profession, and the bakers, their families, and their servants always appeared well-fed and prosperous, often associated with a 'jackfruit-like' physical appearance.
This chapter is a heart-warming tribute to the traditional bakers of Goa, underlining their lasting influence and contribution to Goan society.