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Wednesday, June 22, 2005


There's only one place to pinkbag, and that's in the CT.

No, not in the city. The CT. You know, Chinatown. Pinkbagging is not only fun, but it's damn frugal. And if you don't have the green, or if you wish to conserve your green, then try the pink, bag that is.

What the significance of the color pink is in the Chinese community is beyond me. I know that in the Chinese community certain colors carry certain cultural weight. For example, the color red means good luck and/or celebration. The same type of significance placed on certain colors can also be found in American culture. For example, the color white is a sign of purity, whereas blue is a sign of being upperclass (ie., "blue blood"), and red is just another name for Communist (ie., "better dead than Red"). So, if one were to piece all this together, one would assume that Old Glory is also the flag for the purist bourgeois commies. Right?

Um, I'm not sure.

For all intents and purposes, we will assume the color pink, in as much as it affects our CT shopping bags, is perhaps a coincidence or the result of one person's virtual monopoly on the CT shopping bag market. I have to admit, though, it's a great color for a grocery bag. Nothing says, "excuse me, but in this bag is a chicken, two leeks, and a few hot peppers" louder than a bright pink plastic bag.

And one wonders: what does the "Thank You" printed on the side of the bag really convey? Is it a "Thank YOU" God for allowing me to survive the pushing, the clawing, and the line-jumping lil' old ladies all of the way from the front of the store to the back just to purchase two plums? Or is it, as I like to imagine, a "THANK You", umm-humm, that's right, talk to the hand cause the face don't understand, because I'm pink and I'm sass-ay.

Whatever the meaning, without the pink plastic bags, there would be no pinkbagging, and pinkbagging sounds a whole hell of a lot more fun that just (blah) "grocery shopping".

Last Saturday was my pink Saturday, filled with frat boys, crowds of people, and pricks and could you believe it wasn't the Castro? I started the day with some light foraging for wild fennel flowers around the Telegraph Hill area. That turned out to be pretty useless, but stumbling across the blackberries was a nice surprise. A painful surprise, but a nice one nevertheless. And even though every single blackberry was crushed by the time I got home, I felt I had achieved something. Oh yeah, that pain part again. So, like, if you are picking blackberries and you're completely oblivious to reality (like I was), at least be sure to bring a basket to put your berries in so that they don't get crushed. And make sure wear gloves, long sleeves, and long pants. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

Afterwards, I made my way up to North Beach where an unusual number of frat boys and their girlfriends were saturating the sidewalk restaurants along Broadway and Columbus. I thought it might have been just a normal Saturday for the ground zero of weekend warriors, wankers, and wannabees, but alas it was the North Beach Festival. This festival, and many other "neighborhood street fairs" that abound in the summertime, follows the concept of "if you build it…and block off the streets, hire a few crappy coverbands, and set up a tent city of overpriced craft, aka crap, booths and out-of-town carny-food vendors…they will come" to great success. After wandering through the crowds on Grant Street and staring horrified as I saw my beloved Washington Square Park being trampled by the hordes, I decided to make a quick dash over to Stockton Street for a little pinkbagging comfort shopping.

I love Stockton Street. Other streets in Chinatown have their charm, but Stockton Street is just pure, high-adrenaline business. The sidewalks are jammed daily with throngs of Chinese shoppers. The sounds of Stockton Street are amazing. The cacophonous sounds of MUNI buses beeping and breaks squeaking, cars honking, fishmongers and produce hawkers shouting out their goods, music from China being blasted from the music store on Pacific, people speaking Chinese (mostly Cantonese) everywhere you go; it's pretty amazing.

But then, Chinatown is filled with extraordinary sounds. Try walking down Hang Ah alleyway and sitting on one of the park benches facing the tennis courts. In front of you you'll see and hear people playing tennis and kids screaming in the park below, while behind you you'll hear the thousand clicks of mah-jong tiles the old men and women crowded into low-key gambling dens are playing with. Or try walking down any other alleyway, such as Ross or Wentworth, and you'll most likely pass backdoors that open (sometimes) to more mah-jong parlors, to Buddhist temples, to the kitchens of restaurants, and to music stores.

One alleyway that's more like a little side street is Walter U. Lum Place, which is where the King and King Sausage Company is located. I like King and King because they make the Chinese sweet dried sausages, known as Lop Chong, fresh in the store. Other shops in CT sell the sausages, often plastic wrapped and imported, but I like the local-ness and feel of K&K. Besides the regular lop chong, they also make one with pork and pork liver, which gives it a dark color and a richer flavor; and they sell other dried and smoked pork products, such as the huge slabs of bacon you often see in CT. To boot, the storeowner is a super friendly guy who will tell you all about how to use the meats he sells. Storeowners in CT, in general, are nice, especially when they realize you are there seriously and not to gawk. However, because of the language problem, it's not always easy for both the owner and the shopper (me) to have a friendly conversation. That's why King and King is such a breath of fresh air.

Pinkbag item #1: 4 links of lop chong, regular and with pork liver

The rest of my pinkbagging items are as follows:

Fresh, new to the market, green beans (bought on Grant)
A two-pound pork loin for $3.58
6 garlic bulbs for $1.00
A big ole piece of ginger for $.39

New in season, Lychees, red and green, $3.00
Some dried shrimp, $1.00
2 things looking like donut-shaped white peaches, $1.00
Newly, un-banned*, Sichuan peppercorns, $1.00

*So un-banned that the packaging they were shipped in was blank. Sichuan (or Szechwan) peppercorns, which are members of the citrus family, have been banned in this country since 1968. However, it was only until a few years ago that a revision in the ban targeting the peppercorns actually took effect. Apparently, the peppercorns potentially could carry a disease that wipes out citrus trees. As of a couple of months ago, the ban was lifted only for peppercorns that had been pre-treated with heat before being exported to the United States. Still, in most markets, you have to ask for them. Sometimes they are sold as Prickly Ash berries, or something similarly named.

So, what's in your pink bag?

Mark My Words, You Will Suffer

On a down note, I have something to say about world events that have been bothering me lately.

Restaurants are places of business, yes. But they are also communal areas where food is enjoyed and sometimes shared around a table. Throughout human history, the table has been a place that has brought people together. It is a place of peace and a place of bonding. It is a sanctuary and a place of renewal. No one who has even briefly studied human history can dispute that.

When suicide bombers or armies or political activists target the table or the people sitting around one, they're taking an action far removed from human political affairs: they are attacking the very core of humanity, including their own.

Now I know, suicide bombings are just a political strategy waged by leaders who would never offer their own lives to destroy the innocent lives of others. No, they usually pick the weak ones for that job. But, yeah, I know it's political to them. I understand politics and power struggles all too well. However, the murder of those gathered around the table, "innocent" or not, goes far beyond politics, and hopefully I'm not the only one who sees this.

Restaurants, schools, and temples are never acceptable targets for any armed struggle or military action, and those who target them are not terrorists or freedom fighters or brave soldiers, they are war criminals. They are corrupted, desensitized, and dehumanized fragments of humanity who hold no place of honor, only pitiful disgust. And while their Cause may or may not be noble, their actions can never be forgiven.

I took a quiz recently that pegged me as a "cultural creative", meaning that while I don't place any faith in organized religion or necessarily believe in the absoluteness of God, I still place value in spirituality. Of course, I didn't need to take a quiz to confirm that.

And even though I don't believe in the heaven or hell of the Christian faith I was raised in, I'm willing to bend the rules every so often and pray that if there is a hell, war criminals that target restaurants will burn there. I will pray and believe in hell out of spite, waiting for the day that those who target the table will be sent, suffering an eternity of agonizing hunger and thirst. The image I have of my great-uncle pleading for ice water as he lay in his hospital bed dying of cancer is the suffering I imagine for every person who targets restaurants to carry out killings.

I've always believed that reality is just ideas put into action, and if this is the case, let hell become a reality for every desecrator of the table.

Now, onto a lighter note…

Bill's Kitchen Chronicles

It's always nice to have friends who invite you over and cook for you.

It's especially nice when they go out of their way to prepare a multi-course, scrumptious meal. That's exactly what our friend Bill made for us the other night and I’m still salivating over it.

I've always known Bill, up until this point, as more of a diner rather than a home cook. He has eaten in some of the finest and most unique restaurants the world over. As far as I know, he's eaten in Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, Hong Kong, New York, London and just recently Barcelona…need I say more? So what does a world-class diner eat at home? Believe it or not, most of his dishes were actually pretty simple and seemingly easy to prepare.

First we began with a warmed chicken liver pate on toast, serves with a light spread of Frog Hollow farms apricot jam. Now, I'm lovin' it.

Next we moved onto a little green salad I made with maché, newly in season figs from Capay farms, and thin shavings of Parmigiano Regiano.

Then we moved onto the first main course of chicken, slow cooked in olive oil, vinegar, and garlic served with a side of sautéed Swiss chard sprinkled with a few dried berries. Wowsers!

Our next course was a lightly sautéed filet of cod (if I remember correctly; could've been haddock) topped with a dollop of Sujuks ginger chutney and served next to a helping of couscous.

The piece de resistance was dessert, of course, which was an orange flavored meringue floating on top of a creamy custard sauce, aka Floating Islands, and accompanied by fresh strawberries and edible flowers.

So, do you have friends like Bill?



Anonymous chubby said...

Howdy Baconfolks,

I love your site.

Thought you mignt be interested in this bacony invention I spotted on the web.


9:12 AM  
Blogger Bacon Press said...

Thanks Chub.

And by the way, Golden Gate Bakery deserves far more "carrots", especially for the egg custard pastries. To have one fresh from the oven is absolutely divine.

Please. Go out of your way.


10:08 PM  

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