There’s a definitive scent to the air of Northern California. Everytime I have flown into San Francisco, once beyond the smells from machineries, the blended light aroma of Pacific fog, sunbaked grassy hills and Eucalyptus tease memories made from many trips in early life, plus living full-time there in the early 80s.
Late last week I visited the Peninsula for the first time in sixteen years. That scent was the first experiential sensory notation, drifting through the accumulated turbulence created by human activities.
Even more so, I spent three hours with the Master Baker (third generation) of Boudin Bakery. I’ve been eating Boudin sourdough since I was a baby (1964). A mostly weekly Sunday ritual in my teens were cold turkey sandwiches (with Helman’s) on sourdough. I grew up with this bread.
The mother dough of Boudin is a bit over 160 years old. It’s unique to the San Francisco Wharf. The Master Baker Fernando walked us through the main bakery for three hours, explaining the bread and their logistics in detail. He taught me the signature scoring technique they use. I cannot describe the thrill, as a former chef, to score a rack of Boudin sourdough under his supervision. Not only did I touch my years of existence, I also touched 160 plus years of a bread mother dough. Boudin claims they have baked over 250 million loaves of bread since 1848.
Some experiences as a Chef are simply treasured, tucked away into personal memories – such as when I smuggled a $1000 of Alba (Italy) truffles back into the USA. Touching Boudin sourdough prior to baking; tasting the mother dough – has now been carefully wrapped and put away into my soul.