June 8, 2015 by Johanna Burani
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)
The fog of San Francisco is a distinctive characteristic of that beautiful city. It can make the sun, the Golden Gate Bridge and tall buildings and trees disappear before your eyes! This famous fog also carries colonies of a local bacterium called Lactobacillus San Francisco. It is the secret ingredient of another well-known feature of San Francisco: its sourdough bread.
The basic ingredients of any bread are flour, water and yeast. The yeast, when hydrated, feed on the starch in the flour, increasing them in size and number (budding). As this process continues, the flour mixture ferments, producing what we call a “dough.” We shape it, bake it and then eat it. Most of us love the taste of this final product, bread.
But when bacteria enter the usual mix, magic happens. They produce lactic acid during fermentation and give the resulting dough a tangy or “sour” taste when baked. This is what the Boudin family discovered quite by accident when they left Paris and set up a bakery to serve both locals and gold-rush prospectors in San Francisco in 1849. They thought they were preparing their Parisian recipe for baguettes. The San Francisco fog, however, heavy with wild Lactobacilli San Francisco, unwittingly changed their recipe forever. Their new and unique sourdough bread became an instant hit.
Today sourdough bread is enjoyed throughout America and beyond. Its high acidity (pH 4.0 – 4.5) makes it a good low glycemic carbohydrate choice (GI 48 – 57). It moves slowly out of the stomach and into the small intestine gradually releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This is good news for blood glucose control, satiety, weight management and energy endurance.
You can use sourdough bread as you would any other type of bread. I like grilling thin slices of it rubbed with raw garlic and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil