By Bread Alone

April 5, 2010

And now, an ode to real, authentic Northern California sourdough bread:

Oh my dear loaf,

Your smell alone brings memories flooding back

Like my tears fall from….

Ok, enough of that.  I could hear you clicking “unsubscribe to this blog” from here.  But this morning I was greeted by an amazing smell – the real deal sourdough bread, imported from San Jose, CA.  Being from California, you take it for granted that you can get this marvelous product in any grocery store and in restaurants.  That was one of the first culture-shocks for me after moving to the Northeast – sourdough is not an option for bread choices in restaurants, and the one brand the supermarket carries is made in Vermont or Connecticut or somewhere that isn’t California.  There are very specific guidelines under which real sourdough bread can be made, and the main one is weather-related.  The conditions have to be just right to allow enough bacteria to mesh with the dough; the bacteria’s lactic acid is what gives sourdough its “sour” flavor; ideally, foggy conditions produce the best combination of weather factors for top-notch sourdough bread…hence San Francisco’s (and the surrounding coastal and valley regions) notoriety for its sourdough bread.  These conditions simply can’t be reproduced in other parts of the country, which is why sourdough bread from Massachusetts fails miserably (at least for us CA sourdough snobs).

After one whiff of that doughy goodness this morning, I was all smiles.  And the texture – chewy yet tender, with a firm crust.  Sourdough is one of the only basic breads that doesn’t need any accompaniment – I wouldn’t ever just munch on some plain white or wheat bread, but sourdough is a snack on its own…and lightly toasting it really brings out the flavor.  It’s amazing what happiness something as trivial as a little bread can bring.  Enjoy.


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