The bread ovens
Located 5-10 meters from the houses, many of these solid stone constructions with wooden roofs remain standing to this day. In 1913, Cordon counted 89 bread ovens, with two out of every three homes possessing one.
At first they were built from granite or schist. The commune's stone mason specialised in building bread ovens with a sole sloping 5cm/m. In order to build the vault, the stone mason would stand in the centre of the construction and build around himself. In the beginning it took five hours to heat the oven and another five hours to bake the bread. So when special heat-resistant fire bricks appeared on the market around 1920, the ovens were transformed. Today it takes only1 hours to pre-heat the oven and a further 1 hours to bake the bread, depending on the outside temperature, without altering the taste. The temperature of the oven could be recognised by the colour of the stones. If bread was being baked in someone else's oven, users would leave their mark using their wooden stamp (a cross, square, parallel lines?).
Today, 25 private bread ovens are still in use and it is not unusual to see smoke pouring out of one of them. The Cordon bread festival is an authentic replica of what happened in days gone by and it takes place on the last Sunday of August.
The bread: the usual shape of the bread is a ball 20-30 cm in diameter, weighing 1 -2 kg. Various ingredients can be included: flour, water, yeast, wheat, rye and oats. During the war when ingredients were scarce, peeled boiled potatoes were added to the mixture.
Only two decades ago, most "Cordonnants" still made their own bread every two to three weeks. In local language, baking bread (heating the oven and baking the bread) was called "making an oven". Between 20-25 kg of flour was kneaded.
The bread was left to rise in the bedroom where it was warm, and stored in the granary (a small outhouse built on stilts near the main house where certain foods were stored: cereals, smoked meats?and the Sunday best clothes!), in a darkened room or on a rack.
The food could be conserved there for two or three weeks. Making bread was a laborious procedure so the sweet treats that were baked in the ovens after the bread was a form of compensation, just like a morsel of warm bread dipped into sweet wine, in local patois known as "Na Rusta".
These were wooden buildings constructed close to, but not next to, the main house or the bread oven in case of fire. On stilts and with a high doorstep they were often two stories high and very well aired! In them were kept all the family's precious belongings, not gold or silver, but important family items:
- Cooked bread, flour and cereals
- Smoked hams
- Legal papers such as Deeds, Acts of purchase, sale or possession, inheritance papers for land or houses.
- Passports (if they possessed them)
- Brandy, which was used to rub down the animals!
- The Sunday best clothes (or wedding outfits)
One of the renovated farmhouses in the village.