Tag Archives: food

Square Plates Are an Abomination on the Face of a Dying Earth

imageA crises faces this generation. It is the crisis of the square plate, the better-than-you-evenly-sided monstrosity, the good-luck-getting-the-sauce slap in the face which is plaguing our restaurants, our cities, and our dogs.

I am not a foodie. I am not a restauranteur nor a critic nor a connoisseur of anything, not even church bathrooms or peanut butter. I do not claim to possess special knowledge, powers, or high fives and I do not boast exceptional height or good looks.

But I hope you will hear me for my cause, for I am a human. I am a person with almost disposable income, and I believe that I possess the right – nay – I demand the right to eat out of dishes that do not make me feel like a robot or a farm animal. I demand the right to eat out of proper dishes, not some trumped up piece of garbage, some toilet shard that is barely passing for a plate in what is barely passing for a place of hospitality.

This is the struggle of our times. At the very height of human civilization, how is it possible that some have fallen so very low and are wallowing in the dregs of second-rate design, inhaling the exhaust of fads farting their way through existence. It is, to put it bluntly, ugly. It is ugly. Not only is it ugly in form, it is ugly in function, a true Jezebel of the dinner table, an embarrassment in porcelain’s clothing, an emperor wearing no clothes and caught trying to attend a Zumba class.

It’s hard to know what is most terrible about this shameful spit of anti-design malfeasance. Is it how terribly clunky it is, its nightmarish IKEA edges, or its unforgivable flatness and lack of inspiration disguised as modernity? Is it the way it makes you want to smash it on the ground before it sucks any more life out of the world or causes yet another person to question their hopes and dreams? Is it the way that it is somehow smug, like someone who is technically nice but still makes you want to strangle them?  Is it the violence it inspires in everyone who sees it?

Only God in God’s infinite wisdom can fathom and place a name on the depth of this plate’s crime against all that is good and holy, for it is an abomination on the face of a dying earth.

I do not know the future and can merely put one step in front of another and take one breath at a time. But I hope and I pray for a day when all humanity will rejoice and join together in song as we dance and dance and dance, trampling the very last square-edged faux-modern plate into dust which will then blow away harmlessly into the boiling seas.

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It’s Not a Cafe, It’s Tart to Tart

imageThere’s a place near me in the Inner Sunset called Tart to Tart. It’s a bakery/coffee place/Mexican food distributor (kind of.)

Nothing cool has happened here in years. Maybe nothing cool has ever happened here. I don’t know how long this place has been open, but I do remember seeing it the first time I came to San Francisco. I was walking along Irving street in January 2012 and I saw this place and I thought to myself, “That looks so cute.” But I didn’t know anything then, even about the things I thought I knew something. About those things I was especially ignorant.

Tart to Tart is not cute. It’s not adorable, or whimsical. All cuteness about it stops at the name. Keep in mind that I’m speaking only of the Inner Sunset location, and not about any other one. Nowadays I don’t talk so much about things I don’t know, or at least I try to avoid it.

Tart to Tart is a place of supreme function. It stretches out behind its windows into a dark, cave-like interior where all the furniture wobbles and has either been here a long time or was purchased second-hand. Students can camp out here safely. Old friends meet and talk and see other people they know. They say hello and describe the road trip they just took through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and some other places.

There are no pretensions here. If you have pretensions, they will be ignored. Maybe that makes it a place where you’re safe from the person you pretend to be sometimes, and that’s kind of nice.

This is a place to come if you love coffee so much you don’t care what it tastes like, where you like looking at pastries almost as much as eating a pastry that actually tastes good, where you don’t mind a bathroom that reminds you of gas stations in middle America. Even the word cafe doesn’t really fit – it’s just Tart to Tart, a place you go when you need to go somewhere. That’s all.

Bring cash if you’re buying something that costs less than $3. Or maybe it’s $5. Just bring some cash. It’s the right thing to do.

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Pancakes Are the Stuff of Heaven.

imageI saw a vision of paradise at a Guatemalan restaurant in Oklahoma City called Cafe Kacao. It was in the form of the most delicious pancakes I think I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted a lot of pancakes. In fact, I had 98 from 2013-2014 alone.

Let me describe these pancakes for you, so you too can see the vision of paradise as I saw it. Like the Apostle John, I will relate to you my experience of the otherworldly and the choice is yours to believe, or not.

“On an indistinct stretch of North May Avenue in Oklahoma City I saw a vision of paradise. It was late August and the LORD led me to Cafe Kacao with my family after going to Body Pump at Gold’s Gym.

It was there that God revealed Godself to me when lo and behold, the crowds of people parted and thereupon appeared two cakes of a most miraculous sort, smothered in a light creamy sauce and drizzled with a blackberry reduction, the two sauces mixing together in a way so sublime I knew it was a sign from above. The fresh berries piled on top of the cakes was also a sign from heaven – strawberries and blackberries so plump and so awash in flavor in the land of blackberry reduction that I almost prayed for the LORD to levitate me to heaven right then and there.

But my work on earth was not yet done. Seeing the cakes before me, I knew I was meant to eat them and thus taste the bread of heaven yet while I lived. Eat them I did. My first bite revealed more wonders and knowledge to me than my 25 years here on earth. Has there ever been a pancake so crispy but so tender, so giving in flavor, so receptive to the tongue?

In that very instant I saw everything clearly. I was to be like this pancake, firm but yielding, flavorful but able to work with the flavors of other people, tender, warm and loving. In short, I was to be perfect as this pancake of heaven was also perfect. I at once felt a sense of peace descend upon me as I heard a voice say, ‘This is my pancake, with which I am well pleased. Now go forth in the full knowledge of the pancake and spread the word among the lost.’

I awoke with a stain on my shirt and a faint memory of something all hazy and golden. This blog post had been written in its entirety, and I’ve remained faithful to the original text. Please blame any typos on my vision-seeing dream self.

Also, eat these pancakes.

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Hello Styrofoam. I Think You’re Trying to Kill Me but I’ll Still Drink Coffee Out of You.

Styrofoam

Styrofoam

Before I start, let me be clear that I know nothing about styrofoam and its affect on my health. Everything I know about styrofoam comes from whatever liberal pseudo-science they put in the water in San Francisco and something my babysitter said to me when I was in 5th grade about how microwaving styrofoam can give you cancer. Since then, I’ve researched and learned nothing.

That said, styrofoam was a part of my childhood. I ate school lunches off of it, microwaved leftovers on it, and drank all kinds of beverages from it. I once tore up a styrofoam cup and put it in a shoebox for the famed engineering challenge of creating an egg crate that would protect an egg from a 20 foot drop. Styrofoam did not work, but it sure was staticky.

I moved to San Francisco about two years ago and had kind of forgotten about styrofoam. It’s banned from restaurants in San Francisco and styrofoam cups, plates, and trays are a rarity. Through an assimilation process that’s been going on since my arrival, I’ve gradually learned to associate styrofoam with Bible thumping conservatives, anti-education monsters, and death. At no point was any of this directly said to me. It’s just what happens when you’re in San Francisco long enough and drink enough locally roasted coffee (from ceramic cups of course.)

Now that I’m traveling in areas that are not protected from styrofoam, I’ve started using it again. I drink coffee from it and I want to say that everything’s fine, and that nothing has changed and I’m still the same woman from Oklahoma who doesn’t care about cancer caused by heating up styrofoam but I’m not and I do.

I think the styrofoam is probably killing me. I think it makes the coffee taste weird and dissolves into it when the coffee is too hot, and then those styrofoam molecules turn into cancer in my body that can activate at any point. I’m afraid of the styrofoam cup but I’m more afraid of how terrible I’ll feel if I don’t take coffee to go from breakfast. It’s a choice of two evils, and one promises death in the future, and the other promises a nasty headache until dinner.

I think the correct path is clear.

So I’m on to you styrofoam. I know you’re trying to kill me but you won’t get me before I flee back to my Bay Area styrofoam free sanctuary. Until then, I’ll see you for breakfast.

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Why I Don’t Give Restaurant Recommendations

Ghee-colored pancakes

Ghee-colored pancakes

Over the past year, I’ve eaten breakfast at 43 different restaurants in the Bay Area.

Every Friday morning, I wake at the godly hour of 5:15 am and leave the house by 6:30 to go eat breakfast at 7:00 at a new restaurant – always a new restaurant.

Every time, to what extent possible, I get breakfast meat, pancakes, hashbrowns, eggs, coffee, and toast. It’s a feast for one, for my heart and soul. Do you know what color the sunshine is on Friday mornings at 7:00 am as it streams over a short stack of pancakes? It’s butter. It’s clarified butter. It’s ghee.

Listen here – the  hours between 5 and 7 am are a secret. No one knows about them, and during those hours the most extraordinary things occur. Different buildings appear and familiar ones change shape.

Houseboats float in the air next to colorful songbirds, and both are feathered and free. The morning streets are gleeful, speaking with each other in excitement about the coming day. AT&T park enjoys its morning coffee before being filled up with and vomited on by Giants fans. The Embarcadero bends and sways in a morning song before it’s drowned out by business heels tramping to their desks.

And if you’re out at that hour, you’re one of the lucky ones. You get to see the other side.

Restaurants are magical in the morning. Only the most faithful, the most loyal patrons are present, eating their usuals. The staff is chatting with each other, getting ready for the day. Everyone is at their best. There’s no anger, no stress. Everyone sighs in bliss together. A plate of pancakes at 7:30 am is unlike a plate of pancakes at 11:00 am. Corned beef hash at 7:19 am is unlike corned beef hash at 11:02 am. The former is a treasure, the latter a commodity. The former is enchanted, the latter ordinary.

Restaurants that open at 6:30 and 7 am love their patrons and open early for that reason, to serve them the food they need to get to where they’re going. Sometimes the upholstery on the booths is cracking and the stuffing is coming out. Sometimes the decor made up of dusty fake plants and faded Polaroids on the wall, but at the best of places, this all points to a love of people. And what could make the food taste better than brotherly love?

I have an unmitigated love for magic breakfast. Each time I get up and venture into the morning world, it’s the best experience of my life.

When others hear me speak of my breakfast love and of my many adventures, they often ask me which one was my favorite. I instantly freeze up and have no idea how to respond. What do they want me to tell them? Where they can get the best food? The most pleasant atmosphere? The edgiest cuisine? The cutest waiters?

Am I a god that I should judge these things for other people?

For me, the hot stack of 7:25 am pancakes in front of me is always the best food I’ve ever tasted. The snaggle-toothed, wide-hipped waitress with a bad dye job is always the most beautiful woman in the world. A mostly empty restaurant with yellowing posters of Hawaii on the wall is always the most incredible atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. The gentle song of coffee refills, newspaper shuffling, and morning phlegm-clearings is always the most lovely music I’ve ever heard.

Come with me one morning at 7:00 am, and maybe you’ll see what I see too. Until then, be wary of asking me for restaurant recommendations. They might not prove as useful as you might guess.

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If you want to read more about how much I love breakfast, check out these posts: Oh My God, It’s Breakfast in Istanbul, I am the Breakfast Whisperer, Your Life Coach Recommends Biscuits from Pork Store Cafe

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