OUR DAILY BREAD
There were two bakeries in Saligão. The baker was called poder, a corruption of ‘padeiro’, the Portuguese word for baker. The bakers baked three kinds of bread; undo (dinner roll), kankon (doughnut) and poi (puffed flat bread).
The oven was stoked with firewood.
The poder sold his bread door-to-door at daybreak. He did this on foot, carrying a large round basket of bread on his head while using a dando (a thick bamboo staff) to sound his arrival. The dando came up to his chest and had several slots cut into it to house small brass cymbals. He would strike the dando on the ground with every second step as he wound his way along the narrow lanes of the ward.
The poder was like an alarm clock. It was a great feeling to wakeup to the clapping of cymbals followed by the sound of my grandmother drawing back the adamo to unlock the front door and let in the soft glow of dawn.
The poder would place the top end of his dando under one end of the basket, which would be lowered to press against his chest. Mãe would then reach into the basket and select her bread before paying him.
After completing his rounds, the poder would fill his basket with another load of bread that he would strap on to the back seat of his bicycle and take to the village market. Here he would place the basket on a wooden box while he sat on another box selling his bread.
The village poder is a dying breed. Theirs was a tough life; long hours of work and meagre earnings. But they managed to raise a family and send their children to school and on towards less strenuous careers making them breadwinners of a different kind.