What am I grateful for?
Bacon. Fried chicken. Butter. Barbecued chicken. Butter. Bacon fat. Eggs … None of which you will find by the way at my new favorite restaurant, Café Gratitude. I went to the one in Berkeley with my old blackberry pickin’ pal and new favorite massage therapist NFC, and even though I couldn’t find no chicken-fried steak on the menu, I have to admit to having had one of the Times of my Life.
Has the chicken farmer lost her mind?
No! My old pal NFC has, because I would have taken her to Chez Panisse or even House of Chicken and Waffles … and she picked this.
“No, no, I’m serious, anywhere you want,” I said. “My treat.” I owed her big-time, see, for fixing me up backwise in an emergency the week before. “Chez Panisse,” I said. “Chicken and Waffles.”
“Café Gratitude,” she said again.
So, OK, I didn’t even know what it was, but namewise it seemed appropriate for the occasion. Conceptwise, you know: “live” organic foods, no meat, no pain and suffering, locally farmed, environmentally friendly, vegan, “prepared with love,” and all that hippie dippy dong dong dicky doo I’m so, so into these days, so long as I get to go home afterward and lop the head off of one of my chickens.
I like dead food too.
Everything on the menu is named an affirmative first-person statement, and the idea I think is to make you say it when you order. Like “I am wonderful,” “I am lovely,” “I am dazzling,” “I am magical,” and all kinds of other flat-out lies. Personally, I am honest, so I scoured the menu for something true to say to our waitressperson, such as “I am all of the above and none of the above and clumsy and stupid and pissed off and oh yeah, my feet stink.”
“I am explosive,” NFC said, but that wasn’t on the menu either. Although … never mind. Well, no, never mind.
Well, I think she was maybe making a prediction, based on all the ingredients in all the stuff we were looking at, like grains and greens and nuts and flax chips. Give you an example: the salad called “I am fulfilled” contains mixed greens, carrots, beets, cucumber, tomato, avocado, sprouts, microgreens (whatever that means), Brazil nut parmesan, and flax crackers ($10).
Actually, that sounds delicious, but I settled on being “elated,” which meant I was eating an enchilada with corn, cilantro, and something else inside and a spicy green salsa on top ($10). This came with a side salad and Bhutanese red rice. All good, right on.
NFC decided to be accepting, which meant she was eating red rice too, only all tossed together with raw free-range organic vegetables, pine nuts, some other kinds of nuts, and some shit-talking mushrooms. All good, right on.
To drink: free-range organic wind-dried water (with a wink to Posh Nosh fans — hi, Chrissy), and we also ordered a couple things from the smoothies and nut milks, but I don’t remember what. But it was all good, right on.
You think I’m kidding but I’m not. I love this stuff! Anyway, I could have been eating sand and sea shells, and so long as I get to eat it sitting cross-legged on a couch with my old friend NFC, talking about her girls and my chickens and, you know, life and shit, with our knees sometimes touching … I’m going to be happy.
I was satisfied. Technically, this was breakfast, since we started eating around 10, but I didn’t have any lunch and wasn’t hungry for dinner until later than usual. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t run right home anyway and knock over one of my chickens. It was a beautiful day that day.
It’s a beautiful day today. I am sad and scared and loving life because I can’t stop making poetry out of it. This one I call “Hopeful Chicken Farmer Poem”:
Suddenly bugs make sense to me and lavender smells like lavender — finally! Who knew that a dried-up leaf would sound that way under a feral cat’s paw? So I planted a blueberry bush next to the blackberry bushes. Next year, if the chickens don’t scratch it all out … SFBG
Daily, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.
1730 Shattuck, Berk.