Culinary no-no #666


How does that old expression go?  Oh yeh.

“There’s a first time for everything.”

For me it was at a Holiday Inn in Santa Barbara, California.


This was circa 1984. I was visiting to attend a friend’s wedding. There’s another old expression. “When in Rome do what the Romans do.”

Breakfast at the hotel one morning included my first sampling of sourdough bread. Smeared with orange marmalade.

I was hooked. And even though this wasn’t San Francisco, to me it close enough.

Eventually many years ago I got to San Francisco and managed to eat that glorious bread from this legendary spot near Fisherman’s Wharf.

Can you buy good sourdough around here? Of course.

That’s the winner of the Milwaukee Journal’s 2020 Top Choice Award for Best Bakery. National says sourdough is one of their special features.

In July Brute Pizza in our area started making and selling pies with a sourdough crust on their wood-fired pizzas.

With all due respect to Brute Pizza, National and all other bakers, I’m sure your offerings are tasty, but they simply can’t match authentic, bona fide SF sourdough. Cannot. And it’s not your fault for trying to replicate that distinctive flavor. But it’s difficult when you’re more than 2,000 miles away.

Scientist and food specialist told NPR:

“The sour flavors come from lactic and acetic acids produced by inevitable environmental bacteria, which are working on the flour’s sugars along with the yeast. Different bacteria make different sour flavors; San Francisco is awash in local bacteria species that make its sourdough bread famous. So sourness per se in some ryes and many other breads is quite desirable.”

Wild yeast is harvested, then added to flour and water to form a starter. As the wild yeast digests the flour and water, it begins to exude carbon dioxide, which is what gives the loaves their consistency.  Some of the starter is mixed with basic bread-making components and now you’ve got bread. After a few days more flour and water are added to the starter. The yeasts and bacteria continue to thrive on the new fuel. Supposedly just one batch of sourdough can last for perpetuity.

Like Guinness beer in Ireland, sourdough just tastes supreme in the City by the Bay, even though you’ll find plenty of sources that claim sourdough is not endemic to SF. The point is it’s better, no, it’s best out West.

One critic called the flavor of Boudin’s bread “overpowering” and was turned away. The adjective is not a negative to me. I want my sourdough to be overpowering. It hasn’t been since the last time I was in California more than 25 years ago.


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FoxTrot comic strip by Bill Amend - "Remotely Annoying" published August 30, 2020 - Jason: If bologna is pronounced "baloney," why isn't lasagna pronounced "lasahney"? If I drink this glass of whole milk, would you say it's still whole? Ever wonder where they get seeds to plant seedless grapes? Why are these called peanut butter cups, when the cup is made of chocolate? Eileen: For what it's worth, Jason, remove lunchtime with you is every bit as annoying as in-person lunchtime with you! Jason: Phew! Thanks! I was worried!

One thought on “Culinary no-no #666

  1. Pingback: Culinary no-no #667 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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