Brian and I went to Vermont recently to visit the King Arthur Flour Company and came home with a new pet! This creature was a sourdough starter descended from a starter that’s more than 200 years old.
A sourdough starter is actually a living thing that needs to be fed flour and water and stirred once a week. And in return for this care, it will reward you with endless loaves of sourdough bread. Just scoop out a little bit of the starter when you want to bake a loaf, feed the rest regularly, and it will grow and live for years and years. In fact, Boudin Bakery in San Francisco says it has been using the same starter since 1849.
So starters can live for hundreds of years, but I managed to kill mine within two weeks. I went on vacation and forgot to tell my mother to feed it. Sadness. Death.
A few weeks later, I got a second chance at sourdough. A chef I was interviewing took pity on my tale of sourdough woe and gave me a portion of his own starter, which he’d been nurturing and baking from for almost a year. It even had a name: Lorraine. So he gave me a scoop of Lorraine Junior (there was an actual a name tag on the jar), and sent her off to what he thought would be a good home.
And….I forgot to feed it again. Actually, I willfully ignored it, continually putting off feeding it for days, then weeks, telling myself that I’d do it later, or tomorrow, until one day I opened up the jar. It sort of hissed angrily, then let out a smell that was scarily reminiscent of paint thinner.
I have years of evidence that tells me I am no good at keeping plants alive. I guess “eukaryotic microorganisms classified in the kingdom Fungi” can also expect a sad life and swift death under my care.