You can taste San Francisco history with every bite of a local baker’s loaf.
The signature flavor of Golden Gate gastronomy — sourdough bread — rolled into the town with the fever of 1849. It’s still alive and delicious today.
“Christopher Columbus was the first person to bring European sourdough to America,” according to one legend, as Smithsonian Magazine reported in 2017.
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“But the American history of sourdough bread really starts in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush,” said the same source.
The arrival of miners and sourdough will be celebrated on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers challenge the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.
The team’s name and golden-highlighted uniforms pay homage to the city’s foundational frenzy of 1849.
Sourdough starter is made from fermented flour alive with naturally occurring years and bacteria.
It’s not only alive, but hearty.
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Starters survived the long trip across the continent by foot, steed and wagon. Pioneers used it to make bread rise and fuel their golden dreams.
The miner 49ers arrived and propagated. So, too, did their starters.
“San Fran’s famously foggy climate was, and is, the perfect environment for the wild yeast cells and naturally occurring bacteria that give sourdough its characteristic flavor,” National Geographic reported online in 2019.
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The magazine also said, “Claims were soon made that no one could produce a true sourdough loaf outside a 50-mile radius of the center.”
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The bakers’ tall tale has since been discredited.
The sourdough bread business rose in San Francisco before California claimed statehood.
Boudin Bakery opened in 1849, and it’s San Francisco’s “oldest continuously operating business,” the company website claims.
California joined the Union in 1850.
Boudin added, “We still bake our sourdough fresh every day using the same mother dough cultivated from a gold miner’s sourdough starter.”
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Sourdough and San Francisco are so synonymous that scientists call the bacteria that imparts its tart flavor Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis.
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