Wonton Cookies

Way back when I was in the fifth grade i had a teacher named Ruth Omatsu. She was always one of my favorite teachers at Lawton Elementary school because she got us excited about learning. While we learned a lot about science and reading and math in her class it was the special side things she taught us that really stuck with me like wonton cookies.

Bringing a deep fryer around 10 year olds isn’t something you’d get away with doing today, but she decided to teach us to cook one week and she had come up with the novel idea of wonton cookies. They were really simple and delicious. You’d take a wonton skin and drop some coconut, brown sugar and chocolate chip on one half. Then you’d wet your finger and run it around the edge and fold it over into a triangle and deep fry it.

My Mom loved the idea and invited Ruth over one day to show her how to do it. My Mother took it a step further and chopped up banana and pineapple to add into the mix. Really anything sweet would probably work in one of these. If you’re adding in a harder fruit like apples you’ll definitely need some brown sugar to help loosen them up.

While I haven’t seen any Chinese restaurant offering them I think it would be a great idea for them to start. It’s a novelty that I haven’t seen anywhere else and could be a new San Francisco tradition. The only thing that comes close is a Philipino dish called Turon. I’ve seen it in stores, but I’ve yet to try it. From what I understand it’s banana, chocolate and star fruit made to look like a lumpia, but is sweet inside. Even though I dated a girl who was Philipino for six years I had never heard of this before, but it sounds like something I’m going to have to try. In the mean time I’ll stick with the wonton cookie version because it brings back memories of school. I’m sure some of my Asian persuasion friends will chime in on this one. Steve? You out there?

Hat’s off to you Ms. Omatsu!

Pink Popcorn: The San Francisco Treat

Pink popcorn was always something I had taken for granted. You would go to the ballpark and get it. You could go to the zoo and get it. Any event that occurred within the Bay Area you would find Wrights pink popcorn. It was like Coke™, where ever you went it was there. What I didn’t realize in my very San Francisco-centric thinking was that it was a San Francisco creation.

Since finding this information I’ve been trying to track down the history of this confection that is taken for granted. I’ve heard stories that the chemicals used to coat the popcorn causes cancer [just like everything else you eat] to it being first made in the 1800’s in San Francisco. I have even called the company that’s located now on Potrero Avenue in the City as well as emailed them, but have yet to hear from them directly.

From Wrights website they mention that they started in the 40’s and that’s as much of a history as I can get about them. I’m not sure who Mr. or Mrs. Wrights is, but they don’t really want you to know about them. I was able to find a couple of guys who did an interview with NPR who were flavor agents that made the flavorings for many high profile food products which I cannot mention, but they did say that they were the ones who created the pink glaze for the popcorn and it was bubble gum flavored. Somehow bubble gum flavored popcorn doesn’t sound as good as it tasted as a kid. Bubble gum was something you chewed and spit out, not chewed and swallowed as my mother always reminded me when I would chew and swallow a piece of Bazooka Joe [as an adult I used to buy tubs of the stuff along with red vines just to satisfy the kid still in me struggling to get out].

I think it’s about time that our Interim Mayor, Ed Lee recognize Wrights pink popcorn as a official San Francisco Treat. When public officials come  to San Francisco Wrights pink popcorn should be in the baskets he presents to them not organic hot dogs like he’s given in the past. This is a company unlike others that started in San Francisco like the It’s-it and Sees candy that have moved to the peninsula, but a San Francisco company that has actually stayed in San Francisco. Sure we have Twitter, but compared to a company started in the 40’s Twitter is an infant.

While Wrights website could use an update they’re more about the product we all take for granted. While I hadn’t seen it at my last trip to the San Francisco Zoo I understand you can still get it there and I was pleased to hear that the Stow Lake boat house will still be selling it. I think I’ll have to find some and share it with my daughter so she can get a taste of old San Francisco.