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The Sourdough Starter That's Older Than Wyoming
In my mind I am a scrappy urban pioneer who raises chickens on my fire escape and bakes everything from scratch, but I must stress that this is strictly in my own mind. In reality I have a real city-dweller’s squeamishness about food. My meat comes bloodless and entombed in cellophane; I get a little skeeved out when my mushrooms are dirty; I buy my bread pre-sliced whenever possible. I live, like many of us, entirely disconnected from the life cycle of what I eat.
As the Casper Star-Tribune reports, the sourdough starter is older than the rotary dial, airplane and modern assembly line. “Someone first stirred its ingredients together the same year the Eiffel Tower opened and Vincent van Gogh painted ‘Starry Night.’... It’s older than the state of Wyoming.” (I think I have some take-out packets of ketchup that old, but I’m not proud of them.) Anyway, 83-year-old Dumbrill, who inherited the starter from her mother (who could track it back to a 19th-century sheepherder’s wagon), says it’s easy to keep: you just have to put it in a ceramic jar in the fridge and “not be afraid if it doesn’t look good.” (You simply must read the entire article for what she means by that, and why the starter could "make some women squeamish.")
The sourdough starter has become something of a local celebrity, the star of
fundraising pancake dinners and political meet-and-greets. But what I love best
about this story is Dumbrill’s “go with the flow attitude -- “Nothing about
sourdough is absolutely absolute,” she told the Tribune. A little of this, a
little of that, and voila, you have a delicious meal that contains a link to
history, a dash of pioneer woman spirit, and tastes great with whipped cream.
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