August 2nd, 2003

bitstrips

A Vegan in North Beach

Today I decided to go to the free North Beach Jazz Festival concert at Washington Square Park. Due to my current addiction to the Sims and not having anyone to go with, I didn't manage to head out until after 4 p.m. I justified the late departure by figuring that there would be fewer people by then (it ended at 6), and I'd have less chance of sunburn.

Getting to the park from my home on foot, via the most direct route, meant walking up one insanely steep hill and then straight down again. As I crested the hill a tourist asked me for directions to Lombard Street. Poor fool, asking the most directionally-challenged citizen of San Francisco how to get somewhere she's only been once, while she's out of breath no less. Fortunately I had my MUNI map with me and managed to point him in the right direction.

My first excuse for arriving late vaporized as I approached the park and found barely a square inch unoccupied. The few patches of green that caught my eye were wet, probably with spilled beer from the several beverage tents ringing the park. Recorded music piped from the PA system while the next band was setting up. I decided to make my departure.

Unfortunately I had broken a cardinal rule, which is to never leave the house hungry when going a) grocery shopping, or b) to a neighborhood with many restaurants featuring rich cuisine I really shouldn't be eating. I had last (and first) been in North Beach with Ziggy on the day we signed the lease for our current apartment, and we had wandered lost for some time among the Italian restaurants, wondering what to eat. While we eat vegan pasta all the time at home, Italian restaurant dishes tend to be rich in dairy, eggs, and often meat as well.

I had meant to post to the Bay Area Vegetarians mailing list to find if there was anywhere to get a good vegan meal in Little Italy, since no one at the last potluck was sure, but of course this slipped my mind. So I wandered ravenous and depressed, as I so often do when I don't have a specific place in mind to eat. I pined for Berkeley, where I knew a dozen places I could get a good meal within a 10 minute walk of my home.

I eyed and disregarded a Mediterranean restaurant that Ziggy and I had already visited during our last North Beach outing. If I was going to eat at the same place every time I went out, I might as well not leave the safety of my home. (Nevermind the disastrous state of the kitchen at the moment.) I found a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant, went so far as to go inside to read the menu, but quickly left when I saw a pile of garbage on the floor. The place also absolutely reeked from meat cooking.

I turned a corner and wandered down a street consisting mostly of XXX-rated venues. I glanced at the menu of a Chinese restaurant; the food didn't look too bad, but the decor was less than welcoming (not surprising given the environs). I walked by an arcade, toying with the idea of playing Ms Pac Man, but I was too hungry and needed to save my quarters for laundry.

Finally I spied another Mediterranean restaurant. It had a Mime Troupe poster in the window! I was determined to find something I could eat there. I was not disappointed; the congenial manager presented me with an attractive dish of hummus, basket of tasty breads, and colorful salad. I dined contentedly at last.

As I headed home I returned a cell phone call that a friend had made while I was in the restaurant. Due to the nature of the conversation, I was distracted to the point of walking several blocks in the wrong direction. I found myself deep within Chinatown. Very deep; every single person I saw was Asian. I felt I was once again a foreigner; first a vegan in Little Italy, now a black woman in Chinatown. But it is a great experience to be in a city large enough to have distinct neighborhoods and cultures.

After struggling up the last steep blocks to my apartment, I rewarded myself with Soy Cream Cookie Vanilla vegan ice cream, the best of the best. Who needs pasta, anyway?

P.S. Bob Hillman responded to my fan mail!! *bounce* *bounce* It's great to have an artist approachable enough to put his private e-mail address on his home page and respond directly to fans.
  • Current Music
    Bob Hillman, Welcome to My Century