The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from France !

Marie-Claire's picture

Hello from France !

Hello all bread lovers !

My name is Marie-Claire, I am a french  culinary journalist, and I bake my own sourdough bread since 10 years.  I often read this forum, although I have never write.

I find you are all fantastic. I wonder your photos of loaves, and believe me : a lot of french bakers may be envious of many of your baguettes or bâtard !

I am passionate about the leaven of San Francisco and the stories of gold diggers. I think it's great that this tradition is still alive today.

I'm doing a study on fermented foods as a food identity. do you think the bread of San Francisco is a food identity in California today?

Ie, do you think the people of this area recognize themselves in this bread, is there community practices related to the manufacture or consumption of bread in particular?

Please excuse me because english is no my mother language.


fancy4baking's picture

Well just to let you know Maire-Claire, there are in this place some people ---don't know how many, but surely am not one of them--- who are considered to have surpassed professional bakers and some other are equal peers to some renouned ones. 

What i'm so sure of, no matter how differently people are categorized in this site as opposed to their baking skills, everybody is here for the passion of baking good bread, enjoy the bread aroma in their houses and sharing the joy with others.

Welcome aboard, and hoping we can all benefit from your expertise in culinary domain in giving some advice and notes.

As for your English it's absolutely great.

Alors, une autre fois, bienvenue chez nous. Qu'est-ce que tu pense de mon Français? I bet it's not something that i can boast of, but well that 's what i have. :D


Marie-Claire's picture

Thank you for your welcome.
I will not fail to share my experience in cooking.
Yes the smell of bread baking in the oven is something very appetizing and that is naturally cheerful. This is a domain where we progress all the time, experimenting with new things, and sharing with people. It's wonderful!

I have forgotten to say that I also write a blog : "Du Miel et du Sel", ("from Honey and Salt") , its here :

or if you prefer here :

But you seem to have good knowledge of French, I think?

dmsnyder's picture

San Francisco certainly has a long tradition of Sourdough bread baking. I think one can say that, besides a rather stronger acetic acid tang than is typical of French pain au levain, there is great diversity in sourdough breads baked in San Francisco. Two of the bakeries that were most prominent when I was a child - Larraburu and Parisian - are no longer in business. But there are many fine bakeries in the area, many of which started in the 1960's or 70's.  One of the very best of the current bakeries - Tartine - is even newer.

As a French food jounalist, you owe it to yourself to visit! San Francisco and the Bay Area is one of the great culinary centers of the world, often compared to Paris. Hmmmm .... I have your itinerary half planned already. ;-)


Marie-Claire's picture

Thank You  David !

Visit San Francisco is one of my big dreams. (when I grow up, I'll go;-)) My son (he is a cook) has been there last year (bit not to work, just for visit) and what he told me makes me really want to make the journey !
I'll remember you for the itinerary, that's great!
I have never tasted the sourdough bread from San Francisco and its touch acid. But I think the French bread become less acidic today. Unfortunately most people do not like things that have a very strong flavor, and the baker make increasingly sweet bread with yeast. Except a few like Poilane bakery, or Eric Kayser, who revived a true traditional bread. Poilane bread may be the one to get as close as bread from San Francisco. But we do not have the same bacteria here !

May I offer you a bread and butter tartine from one of my latest loaf...

dmsnyder's picture

Your bread looks lovely, Marie-Claire, but I thought the French only buttered bread for radish sandwiches. 

We had some very good breads in Paris last year from Poilâne, Eric Keyser and Phillipe Gosselin. 

There are many TFL members with San Francisco Bay Area connections. When you are ready to come, you will get all the advice you can take, and more! 


Marie-Claire's picture

It' fantastic : I am on this forum only for 48 hours and already several people have offered to guide me in San Francisco. I will not have any excuse not to come...

In France we like butter on bread with many other things than radishes. The iconic sandwich in Paris is the "jambon beurre," also called "Paris beurre". This is a section of baguette, well buttered, garnished with a slice of cooked ham.

I live in the Poitou Charente. It is a region producer of famous butter. Bread and butter: sublime simplicity.

aytab's picture

Welcome Marie-Claire it is great to have you here. Your bread looks delicious. Believe it or not I live in Califiornia and used to live in Northern California and I have never been to San Francisco. Nothing against the Bay Area but, my wife and I would rather come and visit France, she wants to go to Paris and I want to spend time in the Normandy region, St. Lo, Mortain, Caen, Ranville, Le Port etc. Anyway I'm in Southern California so if you come and would like to see the sights of Hollywood as well as the Bay area, Heidi and I would love to be your tour guide.

Marie-Claire's picture

Thank You very much Aytab and heidi !

I have lived long in the Paris region, and also 5 years in Normandy in Bayeux, near the landing beaches of World War 2.  Today I am in the area of Poitiers. If you come to France, you can visit Paris and the Normandy, I can also make you an itinerary.

carblicious's picture

San Francisco sourdough is part of the culinary tradition here in the Bay Area.  But with regards to community or common practices, I'm not sure.  As David noted, the common manufacturing process is that San Francisco sourdough has a stronger acetic acid taste.  Beyond that, there is significant variety in the breads from the bakeries in the Bay Area.

For community practice for consumption, clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl (boule) is quite popular, especially with tourists.

On a related note, my coworkers almost uniformly prefer sourdoughs over straight or poolish baguettes.  Only one person preferred baguettes, but he's Italian.

Definitely visit, a lot of interesting places to see and eat.


Marie-Claire's picture

Thats very interesting, thank you Don. I wondered if the tradition of the bread was still in the culture of the area. Apparently so. (I am happy of that, you know).

Do you Think that  there are more bakeries in San Francisco than elsewhere in the U.S., ore not ? (comparatively to the amount of the population).

Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is a good adea and must be delicious !

To everyone : if you want a french recipe, or an advice for french cooking, ask me, I am here !

carblicious's picture

There are some issues with this data, but it's interesting none the less:

                             Population         # Bakeries    # Bakeries/per Person
San Francsico    805,235            651                 0.08%
Los Angeles       3,792,621          1,706              0.04%
New York           8,175,133           2,873             0.04%
Chicago              2,695,598          858                0.03%
New Orleans     343,829             94                   0.03%
Source     Jul-10 Source: U.S. Census Bureau    Yelp search on Bakeries   


Marie-Claire's picture

Thank you for the research. That's very interesting indeed.

I Think that fermented food is everywhere important in the culture. Both beverages (including wine, beer...), and solid food (like bread, cheese, pickled vegetables, or salted fish).

For example: the symbol for France is the baguette, the "camembert" and the red wine. The symbol for asiatic country is the soy or the fish sauce, for the  northern countries is fermented fish... enverywhere that is a fermented food.  And in San Francisco a cultural marker seems to be the sourdough bread.

Do you agree with that ?