As a Korean-American foodie who resides in West Oakland, I’m lucky that there’s a slew of fine eateries not too far from our home all along Telegraph Avenue in Temescal.
Andrew is from Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in San Francisco, plays music, works with kids, and writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including The Oakland Tribune, The Contra Costa County Times, Wine Enthusiast, The Onion, and Thrasher. Pro: hush puppies, green garlic, caramel ice cream, Japanese sweet potatoes, smelts, Larb Ped, beer, wine, cocktails, and assorted dumplings; con: milk, chips, and candy.
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Nonetheless, the organized mopping up of waste, the gardens and the webs of community activity materializing amongst these efforts — they coincide with a cultural shift — certainly in the Bay Area, and, to some extent, nation-wide, in large cities — pushing back to a time when food production was not industrialized, when pathways from farms to tables were clearer, more straightforward and less harmful to the environment.
In recent years, urban farmers have started seeing their flora and fauna as something more than sustainable, super-local eats. They’re hyper-aware of how their work can impact their surroundings, and intrigued by what larger ripples they might make. Thus, their missions are evolving, moving in inspired directions towards a brand of community-conscious agri-activism.
For me, however, summer isn’t the time I really like to cook out. I don’t buy into the convention that warm weather and clear skies should always encourage fire-building. It doesn’t make tons of sense to create heat outdoors on a truly hot day unless you’re abandoned in the wilds of rural Idaho without your trusty Vulcan range. Furthermore, I actually tend to crave the foods associated with cookouts during winter.
These days, I don’t feel like a teenager too often — except maybe when I’m home for the holidays. Now, when my mom comes to San Francisco for a vacation, good feelings swell to the surface. Our meals together are the highlights of her visits and I try hard to make them meaningful and pleasant.
To play with the idea, I’ve come up with a few unique fast food concepts — inspired appropriately by San Francisco — to diversify the field.
Offal promises to stay hot in the food world. Falafel is a fast food Americans outside of cities don’t know or trust yet. I was thinking a restaurant serving both could be both excellent and successful. Chris Cosentino and the proprietors of Old Jerusalem would have to consult. I would call it Fal-off-All in honor of Chik-fil-A and serve lavash wraps stuffed with fried sweetbreads, kidneys, and liver.
I’m excited about the Super Bowl, not just because the game should be good, but because party hosts all over the country will have such a stellar culinary tradition to mine for inspiration. The kitchen table face-off on Sunday will be as interesting as the on-field action: on one side, offerings from one of America’s most storied indigenous food cultures — and on the other, perhaps a cornucopia of delicacies from a less-celebrated bastion of gastronomic excellence…
The bartender recommended more booze. The personal trainer advocated drinking plenty of water and working out. The doctor condemned drinking too much in the first place. The acupuncturist suggested acupuncture. I’m not sure if I have a profession to stick to, but I have done both drinking and thinking in my day, and for that reason, I hesitate to press any so-called “cures” on others. Hangovers are, after all, very personal things. I will however share a few meals that I have managed to enjoy under the bleariest of circumstances.
Out-of-town visitors always want to know where to find a good burrito. By the time they get around to asking you, you’re wiser, over the course of weeks and months, a true aficionado. You come to understand that, while there are many very good burritos in your neighborhood, seeking out the perfect specimen is a impossible undertaking.
Sweets can pretty much shove it. That’s the short story, I suppose, but in truth, it’s a complicated issue of taste. You see, I like most pies, especially plum, chocolate in croissants and puddings, lemon bars, caramel ice cream, malts, and jelly beans. I respect carrot cake, mostly for its steadfast association with cream cheese frosting. I will rarely refuse a sandwich cookie when it’s offered. I am open to enlightenment courtesy of thrilling and creative restaurant desserts of all sorts. Yet I never crave sweet things or go out of my way to consume them. I’m convinced the very bland affection I do muster is a product of 29 years spent immersed in a culture obsessed with them. Desserts are not central to my eating routines, or even peripheral. If they disappeared, I would shed no corn syrupy tears.