August 2008


I spent two hours this noon riding the Segway around the Mission district shopping and eating. Well, that’s after stopping at Walgreen’s and giving the pharmacist a jar of my Nectarine Cherry Jalapeño Jam because he’d gone out of his way to correct an error that I had had no hard proof they’d made.

And then down to Casa Guadalupe, where I picked up a 6 lb. stewing hen that I’m gonna cook all Sunday morning in puréed tomatillos, pasillas, jalapeños, cilantro, and green onion so as to make a Chicken Chile Verde to take to a Sunday afternoon barbecue given by the downstairs tenants of the folks who had me to a very tasty dinner Wednesday night. It was an astonishing ultrapolylingual evening. There were eight at the table, all of us fluent speakers of English, all but two native speakers of English … well, if we include the Canadians.

Discounting my own miserable foreign language abilities, there were accomplished speakers of Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Indonesian, Malay, Penan, Arabic, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Finnish, and doubtless other languages that I’ll edit this later to add. All I could do in a feeble attempt to hold my own was to toss in a Frisian ethnic slur for “German” that I picked up in the English translation (Cruel Paradise) of Hylke Speerstra’s It Wreede Paradys. [The parallel Dutch word I learned only last year since it carries such stigma that you never hear it in polite society. I actually saw an older Dutch woman blush when I alluded to it in English as “the m-word”. She remarked that she was sorry I’d learned that one.]

But I digress.

This morning’s next stop was Dianda bakery, a few doors down Mission Street, to pick up an almond pastry, followed by a leisurely ride ten blocks down Shotwell Street, parallel to Mission three short blocks east, and then over to Rainbow Grocery – with a stop for a carnitas taco at El Tonayense (a renowned taco truck, Google it and marvel at the reviews) – only to discover that Rainbow was out of the half-pint canning jars that the Market Street Safeway no longer carries but that I need in order to make jam out of the nectarines and cute little red jalapeños that are peaking in my pantry.

And then over to the Potrero Hill Safeway to discover that, while they still carry canning jars, they also were out of the half-pint size.

And then a somewhat circuitous route through the Mission back home, where I devoured this Afghan spinach-stuffed flat bread that I had got yesterday at the Crocker Galleria while marketing with Sybil. That Dianda pastry was dessert.

And then a brief nap and now I’m making that jam even though I don’t have the right jars for it. This one’ll just have to be in pints.

But I stopped to write this because I was laughing too hard at myself to cook. See, the nectarines and lemon juice and sugar and apple mush are in the pot and I’m prepping the jalapeños and wondering how hot they are and take a teeny bit of one of the little cuties into my mouth.

What a disappointment. The damn things are so mild I’m gonna have to use every last one of ’em even though the good news is that they do have a nice flavor. Oh well, can’t have everything, and I throw the rest of that chunk in my mouth. Yeeeeeeeeeee Owwwwwwww. Well, gasp, may not have to use all of ’em after all.

Why is it that that cautious little sliver you cut to sample is always the least hot piece of the least hot pepper?

Here’s some fun-loving San Francisco street art on 16th Street that caught my eye:


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Marketing Moment

There was a marketing moment this morning at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market. See, on Wednesday I spotted a new vendor just off the entrance who had little okra so fresh-looking and so gorgeous that even the fussiest Chinese grandmother would just scoop it up by the handful rather than selecting perfect pods. And at $2/lb.

But since it was on the way in, I postponed the purchase until my exit and then, even though I’d picked up the pasillas and jalapeños and Early Girls to go with it, forgot it.

So today I stopped by, and the magic moment had passed. Yep, the vendor’d looked around and seen that hers was too much better at too much less, so she’d jacked it up to $3/lb. And it didn’t look quite as nice today, either.

Get it while you can.

The other market observation today is that now that I’m shopping mostly at this market and am there nearly every day it’s open, more and more of the vendors are getting to know me….and I, them. And what I’m getting real clear on is that you don’t need to go to the Information Booth to learn who’s got what. Oh no.

The vendors take little breaks and wander around and socialize….and while they’re at it, track each other’s offerings like raptors circling above a prairie dog town.

I was at that big fat farmer’s big fat stall and noticed that he had the first of the season’s cranberry beans. Woulda considered getting some if I hadn’t already picked up a bag of Yerena’s romanos, but as I was looking at ’em, my favorite vendor of French prunes (those little heirloom plums) appeared at my side and asked me what the beans were. I told him … and suggested waiting until next week because the shells weren’t showing enough red to suggest that they were fully ripe.

A couple of minutes later in front of Yerena’s I encountered that cherry vendor I’d described in an earlier tale as cranky. I got a smile out of him when I asked him with a grin, “Checking out the competition, Mohammed?”

And OK, I try not to do tourist shots in any country, but here’s the ruins of the Sutro Baths on a sunshiny summer day:

Sutro Baths

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