Searching #sourdough on Instagram produces more than 5.1 million results--and counting! An unexpected resurgence in the bread's popularity is perhaps one of the more unlikely side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, making Eric Pallant's Sourdough Culture: A History of Bread Making from Ancient to Modern Bakers a perfectly timed publication.
Pallant, an environmental sciences professor, has spent decades baking sourdough and years researching the history of sourdough and bread-making. His interest began in the 1970s when he was given some starter that purportedly was begun by 19th-century gold miners in Cripple Creek, Colo. Sourdough Culture is both the fascinating story of his journey to find the roots of his own starter and a well-researched history of human bread-making and consumption.
Pallant covers bread throughout many eras, including ancient Egypt and the French Revolution, showcasing the natural wonder that is sourdough. As he explains, "A bread made with sourdough bears more than six thousand years of history." He explores those millennia of history through delectable recipes from multiple cultures, interviews with modern bakers, historical examples of processes that tried to take breadmaking shortcuts, and detailed scientific explanations of why sourdough is sour. Sourdough Culture is perfect for history buffs, food science nerds and bread eaters alike. It will inevitably have sourdough-proficient readers feeding their starters in preparation for a baking bonanza, and is bound to inspire novices to begin a sourdough journey of their own. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Flagstaff, Ariz.