Hawaiian shirts and city microbes that make sourdough

Mark-John Clifford

Hawaiian ShirtThe Wave Shoppe

Being from the east coast, I was never one to wear or even consider wearing Hawaiian shirts. I don't have anything against them or Hawaii, for that matter. I didn't think I would look decent in them. I know it was a vanity thing!

I knew back then I should like them being a Beach Boys fan and Jimmy Buffett, but I couldn't do it.

Then I moved to California.

Hawaiian Shirts

Living here has changed my mind about a lot of things, including Hawaiian shirts. When we go shopping, I look for the wildest ones I can find on the rack and bug Patti to agree on how great looking it is even if it isn't.

Hawaiian shirts seem to make cooking and baking so much better. I bet you think I'm nuts right now, but I bet you're the same way?

The one big thing I find with Hawaiian shirts is that when it comes to baking bread, they make that moment even more fun than it usually is for me.

I can't put my finger on why they do that, but trust me, they do, and I like that.


This leads me to discuss sourdough bread.

Sourdough BreadDelish.com

I've always loved sourdough bread and always thought it came from SAn Francisco. See what happens when you're brought up back east, and its way of thinking. Must of us, at least the people I've talked to in the past week, always link sourdough with San Francisco.

Before I moved west, the stores I shopped at back east carried sourdough bread from San Francisco. From what I could see, no one else knew how to make sourdough bread.

Growing up in Catania, Sicily, and baking bread with my grandmother, we never made true sourdough bread. We made what the Sicilians call the "bigga". The biggs is a dough that is used as a start, not unlike sourdough, except it was only fermented for 18-24 hours usually. Some bakers go longer, and some go shorter.

Suffice it to say; it gives a deeper flavor to your bread, but nothing like sourdough.

I baked with my grandmother for years and never had the joy of tasting sourdough bread until I was older and shopping independently. However, all the bread was from San Francisco and not very fresh.

I would take business trips over the years and invariably visit some friends in San Francisco at the end of my trip. Those were my best days visiting California.

San Francisco had a Boston vibe which is why I often visited, but most importantly, it had freshly made sourdough bread.


I remember the first time going to Fisherman's Wharf and smelling the bread being baked at a local bakery. It brought back memories of my grandmother's kitchen, albeit not the sourdough smell but the baking smell.

I could spend hours at that bakery just taking in the smell before even deciding on something to eat inside of that famous bread.

When I would get home in New York or Boston to visit my mom, all I would talk about is the bread.

I bragged about the bread, the smell of it lingering in the air in front of that bakery, and the different shaped loaves of bread they baked daily.

I also found out why visiting San Francisco and that bakery, I could order their bread, and if I was willing to pay the fright, I could get it almost fresh. I did a few times but learned it was never the same.

Then I moved to the west coast, and I learned something new and essential in enjoying eating and baking bread.

See, once I moved here, I started to bake bread again. I scoured my brain to remember my grandmother's recipe and little quirks that made her bread the best Sicilian bread in the village.

It didn't happen overnight, but over a few months, after many trials and errors, I came to figure out the right recipe.

Then I learned something even more essential to being a bread baker, even an amateur like me.

Sourdough bread isn't just from San Francisco.

I decided I wanted to take a shot at making San Francisco sourdough bread, so I researched how to make sourdough, and that's when I found out an important detail.

The only way I could make true San Francisco sourdough bread was I would need a sourdough starter from San Francisco.

That's right; you can only make true San Francisco sourdough bread with a start from San Francisco. Why?

My BreadMark-John Clifford

It's in the Microbes

See, it's all about the microbes that float around in the air. Each city throughout the United States, and I would guess the entire world has different microbes that float around in the air.

Considering a sourdough starter is made without adding yeast and only uses flour and water to produce that wonderful smell to a starter. It takes weeks, but the results are lovely.

No matter where you live, like if you lived in Fresno as I do, I can now make Fresno sourdough bread from scratch. It's not going to taste like San Francisco's, but it'll be as close as I can get without finding a started from San Francisco.

This means you can make sourdough bread using the microbes floating around your kitchen, ending up with your cities name sourdough starter and bread.

Imagine your own cities sourdough bread baked in your home. What a great world we live in.

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA

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