According to one legend, Christopher Columbus was the first person to bring European sourdough to America. He carried with him a crock of bread starter—a fermented product that still takes the place of commercial yeast in artisanal loaves today. But the American history of sourdough bread really starts in San Francisco during the California Gold Rush.
That’s when the city went from a small outpost of uncertain allegiance (it was Mexican for a long while) to a relatively big city, as it was flooded with miners looking to get in on the action. Along with a predilection for gambling, which concerned townsfolk, the miners brought with them or made bread starters. The starters were so important that they would cuddle them on cold nights so the yeasts and bacteria that made them viable didn’t die, writes Avital Ungar for San Francisco Travel. Same goes for miners in Alaska… read more >