CHEAP EATS Sometimes it’s almost too much. You’re driving home in the middle of the night, country roads, nothing but static on the radio, sky full of stars stretched out before you, big balls of rain tapping into the windshield, small and large animals darting across the road in the beam of your headlights, graceless, confused. And you think, It rains without clouds now! Large blocks of ice are crashing through roofs in Southern California. San Francisco is the new Seattle. My friend Steve the Turkey Hunter in Maine says winter never came there this year.
How are you supposed to tell the difference between awake and asleep? This is an important distinction for operators of motor vehicles. People ask me: "When did you know?" And I just look at them because it’s all I can do, like a deer in their beams, like, Know what?
I can’t help it, personally. My mind returns and returns to the contemplation of antimatter, the uncertainty principle, and quantum chicken farming in general. Life keeps getting funner, and funnier. For example: the popular misconception that the world won’t likely come to an end in any of our lifetimes. Um, that depends, Mr. and Mrs. Physicist, does it not, on your definition of words like life, and time, and doo-da? Where, exactly, does the world happen? Out there somewhere? And how do they get all that juice to stay on the inside of Shanghai dumplings?
I do have a new favorite dim sum restaurant out on Taraval near19th Avenue
, but that’s little consolation under the stormy stars,Valley Ford Road
, middle of the night. Think I’ll pull over and have a nervous breakthrough.
Oh, now I get it. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhh!
Next thing you know: venison sausage. Next thing you know: homemade hot Italian sausage. The Chicken Farmer is standing outside next to his or her mailbox, waiting for the mail, wondering how human beings, the animals that invented sausage, can still find it necessary to believe in god. Or something. Let’s see, we can turn pigs into pork, pork into sausage, and so on — milk into butter. We can make airplanes and air mail and post offices, and one still craves … what? Answers? Spirit? Church?
But we have the Internet! Just like that, I can receive an e-mail from my friend Rube Roy in Ohio saying, "I mailed you some sausages. Go stand by your mailbox."
Personally, I don’t need any more information than that. The sausage is in the mail. The coals are glowing. The chickens are looking at the Chicken Farmer like, Well, what’s in it for us?
Answer: grass. There’s a lot of grass around my mailbox, and they can’t get at it. You talk about your symbidiotic relationships. I love to graze, but I don’t particularly like grass. I prefer eggs, and sausage. So, while I’m waiting for the mail, I’m basically mowing the lawn with my hands, throwing it over the fence to the chickens, and they’re going to town, converting green into yellow, healthier, tastier eggs for tomorrow’s lunch, for me, with sausage.
What’s in it for Rube Roy? Well, he gets to be, very fittingly, the first official inductee into the Cheap Eats Hall of Fame. Are you kidding me? He made and mailed me about five pounds of meat — a long string of venison sausage, a short, fat string of hot Italian, and three sticks of spicy, smoked, dried whatever-the-fuck. Soppressata?
It’s delicious, whatever it is. I’m chawing on some right now, writing this. And I still want to tell you about my new favorite dim sum place too, but that’s probably a story unto itself, soupy enough to sink me to the bottom of this column and off the page, into your lap. Where, with all due respect, I don’t know if I want to be, so let’s save that for next week and stay for now with the Cheap Eats Hall of Fame.
You want in, send me something. By e-mail. To eat!
In the meantime, so Rube Roy doesn’t get too lonely, I’m going to take this opportunity to also induct a couple other inductees, that philosophy-talking piano student who hand-delivered to me an order of North Carolina barbecue, hush puppies, and sweet tea. And this Red Cross worker in Seattle (Ketchup County, or something like that) who sent me a big bottle of barbecue sauce. I don’t know. She works for the Red Cross. The bottle says Jones on it, and it’s fantastic.
So if your name is Jones, and you live in Seattle, and you gave blood, I love you. On ribs, especially, but you also go good with meatballs. SFBG