Thursday, February 03, 2005


I just received a gift in the mail that has me eager to get home: Italian sourdough cultures.

Yes, plural!

It's very very hard to get authentic Italian sourdoughs - the Italian bakers are as close with them as the San Francisco bakers are. Probably more so, since I can affod to travel to San Francisco to beg and plead for a culture, but not to Italy.

One of the cultures I received is from a bakery on the Isle of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, the other comes from Camaldoli Hill. The first culture is at least 200 years old, the other a baby, born months ago as opposed to centuries ago.

I know the older culture will be intensely sour, with a preference for unbleached wheat flours. I'm thinking of naming this culture "Neopolo" (more reminiscent of the Naples area than an actual Italian name) because it didn't come with a name already, and this one acknowledges its origins.

The baby Italian culture also came with no name. What is with people who don't name their yeast beasties? You have to care for them, feed, them, wash them, play with them, and house them just like any other pet. Don't they also deserve a name? Anyway, the baby, I think I'll name "Quentino" for active, for I certainly hope this young culture will prove vigorous and active.

In two weeks, I'll bake the first loaves with Neopolo and Quentino - and I'll take pictures to show you how pretty they are.

I'm just sorry you can't taste them with us.

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