The Saga of a Runaway Sourdough Bread in San Francisco

I love San Francisco sourdough bread. While we can get sourdough bread in New Zealand, it is just not the same.

San Francisco's sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery

What makes San Francisco’s sourdough so special is a bit of a debate. Some say it’s a specific strain of the lactobacilli that is found in San Francisco, other’s say it’s the fog, and a quite plausible theory is simply the skill of the bakers.

Unlike most bread recipes that use commercial yeast, sourdough bread relies on wild yeast and the acid that is produced from the bacteria and  lactobacilli in it. If you think about sourdough bread, or analyse it for too long, you  might never want to eat it again. After all, it’s the bacteria that give it the sour flavour. And not just a few bacteria, according to The Biology of Sourdough (Discover Magazine) there are 5 billion lactobacilli (tiny bacteria bugs) in every teaspoon of sourdough starter.

I didn’t know any of that on our final San Francisco morning. I just wanted a loaf of sourdough bread.

Classic Fisherman's Wharf sign in San Francisco Califronai

We decided to head for the best, Boudin Bakery on Fisherman’s Wharf.

It was pretty easy to do as the cable car stop is right outside the Sir Francis Drake hotel where we were staying. Our San Francisco CityPass included Muni and Cable Car rides included unlimited cable car rides so the normral $7 per ride fee was irrelevant.

Donning our tourist attitude, we stopped at Buena Vista for an Irish coffee. Then it was a short walk, our target loaf of bread firmly in site.

Fishing Boats on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco California

We walked past the fishing boats,  heading towards Boudins.

A large window lets passerybs watch the making of San Francisco's sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery

We spent a few minutes watching the experts make bread through the window.

Crab shaped sourdough bread at Boudins Bakery in San Francisco

Once inside we opted not to splurge for one of the animal shaped breads.

In the end we selected a classic round sourdough loaf. Our server put it in a bag and we hopped on a cable car riding it uphill to our Union Square hotel.

Hanging on to the Cable Car in San Francisco

Hubby opted for the full experience of standing and hanging on while I sat holding the bread on my lap.

As the car climbed the hill, I overhead Spanish spoken next to me in an accent I recognized. I asked, and sure enough they were from Argentina, not too far from the city that our youngest daughter is living in for the year on her AFS student exchange. He spoke far better English than I spoke Spanish. As we talked I looked at her feed in my phone.

Sarah’s new look took me by surprise.

sarah's new look

As I raised my hand holding the phone to show the photo to hubby, the bread fell off my lap and began rolling down the hill.

Hear no evil monkeys in San Francisco

Even the street monkeys started laughing as the bread rolled by.

All that work, and in the end, we had no San Francisco sourdough bread.

The moral of this story . . . . a round bread loaf does roll downhill.

How far out of the way would you go for a great loaf of sourdough bread? Have I inspired you to travel to San Francisco?

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San Francisco's sourdough bread at Boudin Bakery. Don't miss this epic saga of a runaway loaf:

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    • says

      While it is a true story it was written for laughs rather than for sympathy. I agree about my daughter. And we have a photo from a long time ago with the monkeys too.

  1. says

    Hi Rhonda … oh no! Ah well … good story and yes I’d concur with Jeff – the Crab Bread might (just might) have caught something on the way down?! Love the monkeys … cheers Hilary

  2. says

    Sarah looks great. I can see why you lost control over your bread though.

    I love sourdough bread and there is none better than in San Francisco.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. Stefanie says

    So… I glanced at this article in my email feed and thought it was odd that there was an ad of some sort near the bottom – I thought it was a Covergirl ad or similar. Then you tagged me and I went back because I was sure there were no pictures of either of my nieces in this post. Sarah looks gorgeous! I truly did not recognize her!

  4. says

    I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten sourdough bread. I feel awful for you that you lost it! Since the ride was free, I’d have gone back for another. (Confession: I’m an old hand at losing and forgetting stuff, usually in restaurants. I’ve had to go back to the scene-of-the-stupidity many times to collect my things.) Your daughter looks all grown up! :O

    • says

      It was a bit of an ordeal, the cable car, the walk, the queue for bread, the queue for the return cable from Fisherman’s Wharf. But in truth, we never even thought of that through our laughter.

  5. says

    I love bread and I can already imagine the lovely smell! I didnt know that sourdough have lactobacilli! Do they stay alive even when cooked? Does that mean that sourdough is good for the tummy? Sorry about the questions. I need to google them hehe.

    What a lovely trip!


  6. says

    I kept a batch of sourdough starter alive for a couple of years. Then had to cut my carbs and that was the end of its life. Still love a nibble of sourdough bread, and San Francisco has the greatest!

  7. says

    I had no idea the story was going to end like this! Did you get another loaf? What is killing me is that Sarah’s photo is not loading in my computer. I can’t see her new look! My husband is a baker and he makes killer sourdough.

    • says

      I am so glad you see the humor in this story. Even though I lost my bread, I thought it was hilarious and tried to write it that way, but so any of the other comments seem to see it as quite serious.

  8. says

    What a horrible experience – to miss out on that wonderful bread! Even though I avoid wheat I can almost taste that crusty sourdough … such a shame … and of course I’m left wondering what ended up happening to the loaf.

    Thanks for sharing this great story with us on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  9. says

    I didn’t know any of that about sourdough bread either, Rhonda, but that’s most likely because I don’t like it at all. I feel for you, however. It must have been very disappointing to loose that loaf of sourdough, especially since it wasn’t cheap either.

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