Geography of Baking or Why I’m Glad I Live in San Francisco

Pretty much any population will tell you that there’s some prepared food that they do better then anyone else and in fact better than anyone could do somewhere else, even if they tried.  From the bagels of New York City to the toasted ravioli of St. Louis, to the Turducken of Maurice Louisianna, every town has their dish.

Well I’m here to tell you that there’s only one place in the world that’s actually true, and that place is San Francisco, California.

How can I make this extravagant claim you may ask?  Well, I should start by saying that it’s not strictly true.  You could technically get the same results in parts of the Bay Area as far from San Francisco proper as Palo Alto.  Not only does the Bay Area hold the title of the discovery of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis, a bacteria used in all San Francisco sourdough starters, but also the air around the bay is full of specific yeasts and bacteria that create the delicious flavor of San Francisco Sourdough.  If the same bit of starter dough is taken to Wisconsin, after a few batches, the chemical nature of the starter will change and affect the chemical make up and resulting flavor of the dough.  It is no longer delicious San Francisco sourdough.

There are no such limitations for other local favorites.  If I snuck into a Jewish deli in the Upper West Side and absconded back to San Fransisco with their famous bagel recipe, using only the finest, locally grown New York ingredients, I could have delicious New York style bagels in a couple of hours.  But if I move to New York, I can only dream of fresh, tangy, San Francisco style sourdough until I can get myself home, or hire a private jet to bring the bread to me.


Urilla is a non-coder working in Silicon Valley.  This makes her a bit of a cowboy in uncharted lands, which is good because her claim to fame is that she wrote the very first Wiki entry on Wyatt Earp.  When not not-coding, she likes trying out new recipes (especially when it involves lighting food on fire), launching weather balloons into near space, and wandering around outside in San Francisco, where incidentally she lives with Gardella.  She is excited to be able to contribute to a blog where she gets to use big words and join these geeky girls in spreading female geekdoms.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ruth
    May 27, 2010 @ 11:22:13

    Oooh, random geeky cooking science trivia. 🙂 I’m not interested in studying biology, but I do love a good bit of trivia (as a future-librarian, my goal is to know everything).


  2. GeekInsight
    May 27, 2010 @ 11:23:14

    I was in your lovely city about a month ago for a meeting. I am in love with sourdough bread bowls from San Francisco.

    My meeting went a little long, so I cut out my trip to fisherman’s wharf and instead decided to pick up a bread bowl at the airport. Surely the airport, with its selection of San Franciscan items, would have bread bowls…

    Nope. Four different restaurants, no bread. You may have delicious bread, but SFO is dead to me.


  3. Amy
    May 31, 2010 @ 20:42:07

    I have to agree with you that sourdough is the best when it’s made and devoured in San Francisco. Yum.


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