The Boudin Bakery, a not-so-renown San Francisco landmark

Sourdough is one of the most known cultural inventions that started in San Francisco. I had the chance to discover its full value at The Boudin Backery, a century-old business that features a very bread museum.

I have now been in San Francisco in my internship program for almost two months, and I’ve had a chance to see many of the renown and iconic streets, the most photographed structure in the world (that is, the Golden Gate bridge), and so many other landmarks that we’ve all heard about from abroad.

Today, however, I’d like to talk about a no-so-known spot; a pleasant discovery that I had the opportunity to make while touring San Francisco on a hop-on hop-off bus: The Boudin Bakery and its little museum.

It very often happens to me that, before entering a place, a big wave of skepticism and doubt invades my mind. It’s not easy to impress me, and all the people who get to know me know this, so it does not happen often that a place surprises me way above my expectations. This was the case with the Boudin Bakery.

Before coming to San Francisco, I have heard many times that one of their biggest iconic cultural inventions is sourdough bread; a type of bread that, due to its unusually long fermentation process, features a rather sour flavor. Of course, when I got here, I wanted to try it.

My first experience with it was not so good – although neither was my election of source, to be honest. If you ever decide to try sourdough, please do yourself a favor and don’t make the mistake I made – do not buy it a grocery store. Instead, try it a proper bakery.

It turns out that the Boudin Bakery has been making sourdough bread for decades and, as it so happens, it turns out that they’ve become quite good at it. They have several locations across San Francisco, but the one that’s really worth visiting is the one by the wharf. Not only it has an amazing offer of fresh seafood that you can enjoy next to the pier, but it also has an open museum that allows you to see inside their own factory.

While you’re eating, baskets full of bread are transported above you from the factory to the kitchen, on a fully mechanized manufacturing line. Following this line takes you to their open factory; an amazing infrastructure built to show you how they make their signature bread. I am not a big fan of museums myself, believe me, but this one really caught my eye and interest (perhaps, in part, because I’m an engineer and I love to see well-organized processes). I spent a good amount of time mesmerized at the elaborate yet delicate process they follow to produce thousands of pieces of bread a day.

To make the journey more interesting, they offer samples that you can try along the way, as well as many well-crafted scientific experiences you can interact with.

I know, it’s not a spectacular waterfall, or a bridge that sways 8 meters under extreme winds, but sometimes, the best things in life, are the smallest, most unexpected ones 🙂

Alexandru Boboc

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