Communal ovens are typical throughout the Aosta Valley, every village used to have at least one. A communal oven could bake from 30 to 120 loaves at a time. The families would take turns to bake rye bread, usually once a year at the start of winter. Called "Pan Ner", it is obtained from a dough of rye and wheat. Once they had dried their loaves on special racks, "ratelé", they would be eaten throughout the year. A special instrument was used to slice the bread: a type of guillotine called "copapan", still in use today. Before eating, it had to be soaked in broth or hot milk or even dipped in meat juices. A fancier version saw the bread kneaded with chestnuts, cumin and dried fruit.
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