Sunday morning, I woke up to the very vague thumping of drums and a persistent murmur that reverberated through our airwell. Upon opening the kitchen door, it became very clear the parade was in full swing. Not only has the new apartment been very good about filtering out the heat in the Mission, it turns out that we're saved a lot of the street noise too. We decided to find breakfast at the stalls and enjoy the day. As we walked towards Progressive Grounds, we caught the tail end of the parade. It was a cold day. Almost everyone on the street had at least a parka on. But we still saw some amazing costumes, men and women who clearly put a lot of work and heart into the day. Oh, what am I saying? The women looked good, and dancing in high heels and most of your clothes off in the high 50s without noticeably shivering is an art. Actually, some of the male dancers may have had it worse. There's less semblance of a top for some of the more elaborate costumes, albeit lots of feathers. It was really nice to have seen some of the parade, even though I was a little sad we didn't catch some of the earlier contingents, which photos from Mission Loc@l show were really quite fancy. We did manage to catch the Panamanian dancers, who had these beautiful skirts, and the big Loco Bloco contingent, who were decked in black, white and gold skeleton costumes. The Loco Bloco float was interesting as it seemed to be fully human-powered, with litter bearers and a (symbolic?) bicycle up front. That made me want to come out for the Day of the Dead parade, which usually has these awesome streams of goths running through the seam of very lovely dress-up.
Right at the very end of the parade was an inexplicable red and gold float, with a giant mock-up of L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics. That was an odd, odd choice of venue to crash. I don't think anyone paid them any mind.
Both of us being incredibly indecisive sorts, we walked the length of the Carnaval market, stopping for cold yet homemade fried spring rolls, before figuring out what to eat. I was quite disappointed food seemed to have been dominated by three large BBQ concessions, a Korean-style grill, a Thai-style grill and something called the San Francisco BBQ Company. There were a few smaller local food companies, but given that we're smack dab in the middle of the Mission, it was frankly disappointing there weren't more South and Central American cuisines being represented. Multicultural cuisine is great, but one wonders about the choices presented here. Still, the BBQ pits did smell like good grilled meat, and we first got a couple of Thai meat-on-a-sticks. The meat was moist, savoury, a little underseasoned to my taste, and unfortunately also cold, in spite of coming out of a warming plate fresh off the grill. It really was cloudy enough of a day that almost everything except the ice cream would be cold by the time it was eaten. While I spent about three blocks gnawing down my meat-on-a-stick, Seth got himself a hot Polish sausage on a bun, with large chunks of roasted peppers. That was hot, and a really nice sausage. Unfortunately, in spite of being presented with a stall that claimed it sold crispy mac and cheese, and stuffed pupusas and fresh quesadillas, I was kind of full enough after the meat-on-a-stick that I wanted something sweet. We decided, after walking back down the length of the market again, that we would skip the vegan Italian gelato, the dairy South American-flavour-inspired ice cream stall (I am still really curious about the rose petal and herbs I've never even heard of flavours though) and the organic fruit pops. In spite of being tempted at one point, we also thought to skip the whole mango on a stick that folks were munching on. The market was very well organised. Recycling, compost and landfill bins were clearly marked and well-placed, people kept the streets pretty clean.
Closer to home, we passed by a Peter's Kettle Corn cart, so Seth said I should line up for a large bag of real kettle corn, while he went in line for a funnel cake. I'd mentioned earlier in the day I'd never had a funnel cake before. Seth wanted me to try some American carnival food, since I'd never had the chance. It was really kind of him to think of that. In spite of the crush of people around us, the streets were wide enough and sunny enough that we managed to move in the crowd without feeling too overwhelmed. The guy at the popcorn cart was super sweet. After being told my spouse wished for me to try sugar-coated deep-fried carnival food so I could have the experience, that absolutely made my day just how nice he was. I got this bag of popcorn that was like a body pillow and about my height, and it was still warm and buttery when I dipped my hand in, and it was all mine. Well, I mean, I shared it with Seth and all, but it was all mine. The sole fry-up stall took forever because it was deeply busy, and I think they ran out of fries when we were there, so there was this protracted wait. I know a lady in line asked aloud to her companion about where I got my giant popcorn body pillow, but it was nice to have something to munch on while plates of deepfried food was being wafted about in front of us. I was well tempted to get a cat fish and fries, but knew I'd never have the wherewithal to eat it. Quite oddly enough, there was this little EU stand further up the street that sold fish & chips (with a British flag), Greek gyros and Salvadorean pupusas. There was another stall selling corndogs that were never frozen, which made me a wee bit sad about not getting, but we had room for just one more fried food object, really. Fresh fried funnel cake was interesting to look at. It was this mass of deep fried noodles, something like a very thick cake of spaetzle, completely powdered up in sugar. I found it quite delicious and will probably have cravings for it again, as I do for beignet. And I will now always think of the lovely thing Seth did, going for a walk with me on a pleasant day to watch a Carnaval parade, when I bite into a big puffy thing of fried dough.
That's awesome. Today made me really happy.