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Gnaw! Gnaw!

Hugging a cat and keeping it warm is one of my great pleasures in life. As I write, the two beloveds are arrayed around my laptop, the fluffy one by my side, the long one tucked neatly just beyond my screen. For all that they are trouble, I sometimes think that embracing me is one of their great pastimes as well.

Today, I was introduced by morbidloren to Taste, a quiet, peaceful teahouse in Hayes Valley. The ambience was gentle and secluded. It was a double treat for me, the first to see someone I had not met up with for a long time, the second to sample delicious Chinese tea and wee Chinese snacks. I love tea, but I am almost entirely more of a teatime snack fiend. One of those, "I'll have that small thing and that small thing and that small thing covered in sesame seeds too." I blame this on a long-running and plump predisposition in my family to sort of gnaw their way through the landscape. But I digress. Taste is lovely place for conversation and unintrusive tea service. For me, I experienced first-hand some elements of gongfu tea-making. I'm a bit too nervous with my hands to tilt the lid on a gaiwan and hold the cup while pouring with just one hand (I have to use both hands), but it is definitely adds something to the process for me, and always has, when you serve yourself the tea at the table. It gives an element of meditation and actually thinking about what you're doing. In conversation, it helps dispel the natural nervousness of finding something to do with your hands, takes away the tension of having to constantly sit up straight and behave. I genuinely liked it there and would love to go back.

After we parted, I took a little time to wander around the area as I made my way towards City Hall. I have a phenomenally bad sense of direction, so I tried my best to follow recognisable landmarks in the area, or pick up new ones for later reference. Along the way, I literally bypassed the Boxing Room, a restaurant I vaguely remember reading about many years ago known for its Southern menu. Now me, I don't really mind this Southern-style food fad that's apparently hit San Francisco. My brief stay in New Orleans as a kid means that at least the basic flavours of that city have imprinted themselves on my food vocabulary -- unconsciously or otherwise. I know that I was not the only person in my family with this experience, as my mother, when she last visited the US and specifically SF, was always unsciously ordering foods with distinctly NOLA or Tex Mex flavours. Not surprising, since apart from New Orleans, we stayed in Houston for a bit as well. I'm actually hinting (nudge, nudge) that me and the spouse could perhaps take advantage of their intriguing advertised Valentine's Day menu, since I could probably enjoy sweetbreads deep fried in lots of cornmeal and will almost certainly be delighted by duck and chocolate mousse.

Note to self: Must eventually find way to St. Louis to see cemeteries and eat fried chicken and chicken-fried steak with friend mokie

I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that I am no romantic. More of a fatalist, maybe. We don't particularly celebrate Valentine's Day, but we don't mind that reminder that there's someone special in our lives either. Also, I am not one to pass on an opportunity to eat new things tasty and delicious. It makes love blossom, and creates warm fuzzy feelings.

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
resonant
Feb. 3rd, 2012 01:03 pm (UTC)
If the world didn't have tea, I expect we'd have the same rituals with hot water, just because of the pleasantness.
vampyrichamster
Feb. 3rd, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
This is probably why tea itself is such a wide concept. Most cultures I've met or heard about do involve actual camellia sinensis in the process, but there are also teas which are essentially soups, and hot flower, spice or fruit infusions. So I think you're right. People all around the world do seek the pleasantness of a hot water ritual.
mokie
Feb. 3rd, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
Toasted ravioli! Single best proud-to-be-local food there is, yup.

Of course, I could just get off my duff and bring it to you, and finally see one of these shops I hear about, where you ask for tea and they don't just bring you a bag of lipton and a cup of hot water.

(It's an improvement. They used to just bring a glass of brownish sugar water.)
vampyrichamster
Feb. 3rd, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
I have seen toasted ravioli on the menus of eyebrow-raising pizza deliveries here. But it is indeed an item I wish to sample in its original form!

SF is more famous for its coffee than its tea, but all the coffeehouses I can think of are apt to at least offer you a variety of teas from a reputable hip (preferably handcrafted or ethical) brand to select from. We are that kind of place. That said, we do have real teahouses, and real tea specialty stores (that are probably not tourist traps). And then I could take you to the local stores with the plethora of teapots, where we could both somewhat lose our minds.

The famous local food is the super burrito. There's also the Japanese and Chinese food (I live nowhere near the good stuff though), and all that crab.
mokie
Feb. 3rd, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
Whoa. The West Coast's answer to the hoagie, looks like.
vampyrichamster
Feb. 3rd, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
Well, we have subs here too. Actually, quite a few kinds, that I've seen. What I would call American-style sandwich shops are popular. There are Cuban-style subs (it's called a sandwich, but no sandwich I know is quite so big). There's also the torta, a rounded sub. There's also lots of Vietnamese food, so banh mi, the Vietnamese-French sub is available.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )