Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Two days back from a trip to California and I'm still sorting through all the deliciousness. The best food images from part of my trip are most definitely to be found at Shea's blog, I can't even pretend to get visuals close to this. (and yes I have fully lifted one of his pix to catch your interest.) I only wish he'd been there for the rest of the week to catch a few of the other meals we had (I'll get to those later).

There was some amazing food, but what will linger long after I forget the precise taste of the Parkside fried chicken benedict(it was outrageously delicious) or how puckeringly, deliciously, lemony the ice box pie Shea trekked from Lois the Piemaker was (and it alone was arguably worth the price of my plane ticket)was the people all those meals allowed me to connect with.

It was one of the humbler home cooked meals last week that clarified why I love not just the experience of eating well but the conversations and relationships that take place around it. Abby and Paul had two friends over, brothers from Mexico. A and I cooked, one of those "what's in the fridge" meals that turned out surprisingly well.

A, P and I were talking about a New Year's meal from last year when I made carnitas a la Shea, which is a fabulous winner of a meal. LL and I won a sandwich competition based around it earlier this month. Which is all to say I'm kind of proud I've mastered this recipe. Until last Tuesday that is. Martine, the younger of the two brothers schooled me about carnitas. Apparently he's been helping his father cook carnitas back home all his life. Hard to compete with that.

Midway through the conversation (as translated through his brother as my Spanish skills are nonexistent) what struck me about the conversation was less the actual recipe, although it really sounds amazing, and more that we were completely bonding over the "right" way to make the dish. I'm going to concede defeat to the lifelong practice Martine has on me, but in spite of the difference in experience and language we had a long conversation about how you cook carnitas.

It got me thinking about how many times I've done just that, connected with a virtual stranger across whatever barriers might exist around food. Which leads next to how many connections I have with the people I love that are also bound up in and intertwined with food experience.

San Francisco has many amazing food options, but what really made them all memorable was getting to share them with friends and family. As always it's not just about what we eat, but how, where and who we are eating with....of course that won't stop me from dreaming about both the fried chicken benedict and the lemon pie. And saving my pennies for my next flight west.