30 Year High School Reunion

©2010 Emily Bradley

Well they’re all expecting me to write this since I was talking about it so here it is. I attended my 30 year high school reunion today. We all look a little bit older, but we all seem to finally have found our places in life. Well, actually this is the first time I think we looked like we’ve aged. 20 year reunion we all still had our High School faces, but now there’s a few lines  and a few pounds added, but we’re still all in good shape I think.

I graduated from George Washington High School in 1980 and while I’ve kept in contact with a few of my friends it wasn’t until facebook made it easier to find them that we came together again. One of the odd things about that time period was that if you were going to Washington for High School you probably went to Presidio Junior High, except that since Presidio was having renovations you ended up being sent to A. P. Gianinni Junior High which is where my connection to a lot of my friend I met today came in.

I wasn’t in the Richmond District, so unlike today I was supposed to go to the high school closest to me and the Junior High as well. Most of us at the somewhat small get together first met at Gianinni Junior High and in a few cases that’s what we remembered the most. I wasn’t too big on school most of the time. I think it was because I spent so much time taking classes at the Academy of Sciences that what they were teaching in High School I had done back when I was twelve, except maybe for English. I spoke English very well so why would I need to bother learning English when I knew it already?

Needless to say, I didn’t get much from High School and managed to graduate with a 1.0 GPA which was fine for 1980. 1981 I wouldn’t have gotten my diploma and it took me until my college graduation with a 3.9 GPA that my parents finally understood that High School and I didn’t mix very well. I still had fun though. It wasn’t always a beer and skittle time in High School, but I still had fun even if it was mostly a beer time with very few skittles.

But going back to the reunion we went through the usual round of questions to catch up:

  1. Are you married?
  2. For how long?
  3. So what are you doing now?
  4. What did you do after high school?

The usual stuff and the answers were kind of interesting. I honestly was a little surprised that everyone remembered me. I wasn’t elected the best at anything in my 1980 year book, but at least those who remembered me remembered as the funny smart guy. I think I’m OK with that.

I am NOT a food blogger!

I recently have had the unfortunate experience of seeing quite a few food bloggers on television. This is not a good thing because if they are any indication of what food bloggers are like, I am not a food blogger. Most of them seem to have no luck with the opposite sex, can’t cook and the food they write about while tasty, has them all on high blood pressure and cholesterol meds.

This is not what I am. I love food, I write about food some times, but I don’t write about food I’ve bought at a restaurant all the time, I write about food I cook. Yes, I may have a couple extra pounds on me, but seeing as I’m getting closer to 50 that’s not so unusual and I know people in their 30’s who have more of themselves to love than me.

I grew up in the kitchen. I have a picture of myself at about 3 with an apron on standing on a chair washing dishes in the sink. This is probably because that’s where you always start out — as a dishwasher. I remember around 7 I got to move up helping my Mom mix cookie dough and bake the cookies and at 10 I was helping out my Dad at the BBQ. My family is from an Italian and German background, mostly Italian so it’s always about the food. While I’m a city boy we always spent the summers up in the Sierra foothills in what most city people would call a “red-neck” town. All the guys got a gun for their 16th birthday and you could sit out on the porch in the evening and watch the raccoons, skunks and deer walk right past your house. One of the things I learned from this was an appreciation of nature and vegetables. We used to drive out to Joe Malfino’s farm and get about 10-20 pounds of Italian red onions that his father brought the seeds over from Italy when he came here. Nothing is as sweet as one of those onions and my Dad used to show off to my friends when we’d get back my cutting an onion and having them taste it raw. When we’d be driving home we’d always stop at a place called Sloughouse that had the sweetest yellow corn you could ever imagine. When we’d get back home my Dad and I would plant radishes, carrots and swiss chard out in our foggy back yard which was kind of a way of bringing country life to the city.

I learned a lot from those times growing up. I was a city boy for most of the year, but in the summer I’d have to be a country boy picking the walnuts, figs and apples off the trees at my Aunts house or maybe we’d go over to a cousin’s place were we would be wrestling with the pigs and milking the cows and picking the freshly laid eggs from the hen house. For most of the people that was work, for me it was fun because I got to do something my friends in the city never got to. I remember my Aunt’s friends coming by and dropping off boxes of peaches and other fruits that were maybe off the tree for a couple hours at most.

Now I’m carrying on the tradition by cooking like I learned from my family and adding my own side to things. I’m moving out of the Italian/German comfort zone and playing around with South American, Indian, African dishes just to see what new I can come up with. I’ve wanted to be a chef many times, but some of my acquaintances such as Bruce Hill and Joe Zelinsky have said, “You work long hours, with no overtime and you barely make above minimum wage.” I think I’ll have to pass then, because I want to be able to buy the food I cook at home.

Look Look Butt Shop!

Traveling on the San Francisco Metro system can be very interesting some times. You can see the strangest things and even like today, hear the strangest things.

I had to take a trip downtown and since driving downtown is crazy and slow and expensive I decided to drive to West Portal and hop on a metro train. Here’s where the fun began.

As I got on the train I sit down and try and tune out everything around me. There was a Chinese couple sitting across from me and they were speaking Cantonese. I’ll get to how I know it was Cantonese and not Mandarin later. So as I’m tuning everything out I suddenty hear. “LOOK LOOK BUTT SHOP!” OK, something like that you don’t just let slip by you.

My minde started wondering what a place called the Butt Shop would be, or maybe it was called the Look Look Butt Shop, kind of like one of silly Asian companies that put English words together to name their company, but not exactly choosing the best words like, “Happy, Sunny Egg Place”. No I’m serious, I actually saw that one time. Maybe the Look, Look Butt Shop sold fanny flattering attire to women who aren’t getting enough attention? Maybe it was a plastic surgery place that fixed dented derrieres?

OK, I’m thinking a little too much here and as I got off the train I realized what she was saying thanks to my Kung-Fu teacher who made us count in Cantonese [Thanks you Sifu Wong!]. They were numbers. 6, 6, 8, 10. They just happened to sound close enough to English words that my mind created the Look, Look Butt Shop out of those sounds. The closest I can come to what the words actually are is luk, luk, baht tsup.

Of course, while I can get my face slapped in about 12 different languages, my knowledge of Cantonese is pretty limited so maybe they weren’t numbers and they really were talking about the Look Look Butt Shop. I tried putting it into google to see if it came up and it didn’t, but maybe that’s a good name for a company that I can make lots of money off of. It’s certainly better than the Cranberry and Apple juice combo that was called “CRAP” when it was released in Japan.

So now I have to ask, what other foreign words can sound like something odd in English and what English words sound like something odd in other languages? Let me know I’m kind of interested in this.

Sunset Summer Morning

©2010 Eric Kauschen

This morning was one of those mornings that was like no other. My alarm goes off at 6:50am and I wake up feeling warm. I get up to open the window and realize that it’s already open. Grab the iPhone and check the temperature and it’s 70° at 6:50am in the Sunset District.

I knew it was going to be a good day so I had to run down to the beach because on a nice day like this there’s nothing better than the beach in the morning. I know for people in places like Texas, Florida or Hawaii 70° in the morning is nothing for them, but here since we don’t get weather like this most of the year, we love it all the more.

How can I best describe the beach in the morning on a warm day? Quiet. The sun is at your back and not glaring in your face, everyone slows down a bit and even the waves aren’t crashing as hard as they do on one of our foggy mornings. I was watching Anthony Bourdain yesterday in Miami and he was walking around Key West and I remember how cool the water looked with all the greenery growing as close to the water as it could get and that image popped into my mind. It may not be exactly the same, but for that short period of time, watching the early morning surfers, I was in a tropical paradise.

Durian Gelato…Interesting

Today I did something I never thought I’d do. I asked to sample Durian Gelato. The Durian is a fruit from the Phillipines that is of mythic proportions. An ex-girlfriend’s Grandmother used to tell me that it was, “The fruit that tastes like heaven, but smells like hell.” Lola, you had that one down cold. The only problem is when I put this tiny morsel of gelato into my mouth I was struck by a flavor that wouldn’t go away.

First there was a sulfurous bite followed by a somewhat grassy, well rotten grassy flavor, but never once was there anything sweet in the taste. I had the chance to try this at the local Marco Polo gelato shop on Taraval street. Don’t hold the Durian gelato against them though. They have a lot of the standard flavors you’d find in a gelato shop like rum raisin, pistachio, arcobaleno, double chocolate, but they also have mixed in Asian flavors such as sesame, taro (that’s ube in the Phillipines), green tea and of course the Durian.

This is a fruit that Andrew Zimmern who hosts Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel can’t even get himself to try. He says it’s because he, “just can’t get past that funky, gross smell.” I figured gelato might water down the strength of the flavor, but if it did, I can see why Andrew would never eat the fruit. This is the same person who I have watched eat bugs, rotten egg omelets, but there is one fruit he just can’t eat. That tells me a lot of how bad the smell is if he can’t even eat it.

So what do you all think? Durian, yay or nay?


Yesterday I got together with my friend Clint to shoot some photos of him for his website. Clint has become a Yoga teacher and is now working with Paresh Martial Arts at the corner of 6th and Irving adding Yoga to their curriculum.

Clint is a very easy-going guy who offers very affordable yoga classes. You can get 3 classes for $20 and there’s never a hard sell. One of his specialties is the Sunday Chill Down that’s a great way to end your weekend fully relaxed and ready to get started for the week ahead.

When you meet Clint he’s sort of surrounded with an aura of peace. He’s the type of guy that you can’t imagine ever getting angry and he always has a smile on his face. Check him out and tell him you heard about him from Baghdad by the Bay SF.

Shopping on Irving Street

Irving street is a funny mix of stores. There’s a produce place just about every other storefront and then there some electronic/kids clothes/candy/XXX Vcd places. Yes, I did say XXX VCD’s and they were right next to the kid stuff, but at least they had cardboard in front of them and I didn’t get smacked by my wife when I pulled a piece of  cardboard up to reveal the perfect asian boobies behind the cardboard.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’d like to talk about my two favorite places to go on Irving street that concern food. The first is the 22nd Avenue Market. It’s been there for years and is mostly a produce market, but it also sells canned and bottled food in the back that you won’t find in your average grocery store. A lot of it comes from the Mediteranean. Greece, Turkey, that kind of thing with some Russian stuff thrown in. What I especially like is big aisle of nut sacks they sell. Yes, you heard me right. There nothing like a huge Irving street nut sack and they have all kinds of nut sacks to choose from. They have colored nut sacks, white nut sacks, raw nut sacks, even roasted salty nut sacks.

The list is mind boggling, but their also very inexpensive. I’ve recently found a new snack food I love called cacahuates or “Japanese Peanuts”. These are salty peanuts covered in a slightly sweet hard coating. You can think of them as Mexican M&M’s without chocolate. I have a huge bag of them now and they’ll probably last me at least a week. I was tempted to purchase some Turkish Delights, but I couldn’t find a price on the box so I figured I’d hold off for now.

After a trip to the 22nd Avenue Market you have to go next door to the Sunrise Deli. This is a great Mediterranean Deli that has THE BEST falafel in the city. You can get a half dozen falafel for $2.99, now that’s a deal. They’ve opened another place downtown, but it’s more expensive because of the neighborhood. This is still the best and most inexpensive place to get mediterranean food I’ve found. Their hummus and baba ganoush  is always fresh and cheaper than you could get it at a big chain grocery store. We feed about 40 people on less than $75 with food from here for my daughter’s first birthday. You can also sit down and enjoy a nice shawarma plate or one of their other fine plates that will run you around $6.95 and you probably won’t finish it. Incidentally, the plates come with these little pink things [That I don’t know what they’re properly called] that are pickled turnips. They taste much better than they sound and are worth a try. I would recommend you back away from the myrrh flavored chewing gum as it’s a rather odd taste that the Western palate probably isn’t quite ready for yet. Now time to run off and eat my falafel and hummus!

Sometimes San Francisco get’s it right.

Something I always disliked about going to work was having to get the fastpass at the end of every month. I’d usually forget and all the places around me that would have them would be sold out, or the smaller places would have them, but sell them cash only because they didn’t make anything on them.

Now Muni I mean the SFMTA has changed all that. They’ve come out with the clipper card that you can refill at any Metro station or online. No more having to deal with cash only or being sold out. You just tap your card and the nifty little gates open. If you’re transferring to another bus or streetcar you tap it and it will tell you how much time you have left (90 minutes from the time you first got on). The only thing I don’t like is that this means they won’t have to print as many fast passes every month yet raised the price to $60 for muni only or $70 for muni and BART (SF Only).

The clipper card also works on AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Caltrain as well as BART and they’re trying to get all the other transit companies hooked in as well. If your employer has a system where your transit fees are taken out pre-tax, they can work with that as well. If you’re visiting San Francisco they have a temporary card that you can get that lasts for 31 days, but I’d suggest anyone who visits get the regular clipper card that’s free until June 2011, then the price is $5 I believe.

How Things Work.

As of today, I am once again unemployed and I’m going to tell you why. San Francisco had a program that was funded by the federal government that San Francisco called Jobs Now! Here’s how it worked. A company signed up to be a part of the program and if they were approved then they had the ability to hire an unemployed parent who was a member of the program [i.e. me] and they would be reimbursed for the salary.

This plan worked great and employed over 250,000 people, but it ended as of yesterday, September 30th, 2010. President Obama saw that it was working very well and wanted to add an extension of a year onto the plan to keep people working while the economy is trying to recover. The extension passed the house and had to be approved by the senate before it could go into effect. Unfortunately, there are a few more Republicans in the Senate who pushed back to keep it from going through. Why you may ask?

As of today we now have over a quarter of a million people unemployed. This will work to the Republicans advantage as long as we the people don’t think. The Republicans will start using the rise in unemployment as a rally cry in the upcoming elections. “Can’t you see that the Democrats are destroying our great country! Look at how they’ve increased unemployment!”

So stop thinking and vilify the Democrats because they did a bad job when in reality, it was the Republicans who  are responsible for the rise in unemployment by not passing the extension. This my friends is a raw deal. Don’t doubt me that they won’t try and use this to their advantage. I am positive that they will. I just want you all to think and pass this along to your friends so they will think as well.

Yes, while it may not feel like it, the economy is starting to come back slowly, but the Republicans have now made the recovery take a step back by putting over a quarter of million people out of work. Think about that before you go to the polls.