By L.E. Leone
CHEAP EATS I’m not really going to no wimmin’s music festival in Michigan this summer, don’t worry. It costs money are you kidding me? And I’m not camping out at no Camp Trans, either, to protest. I already gave up on political actions, restroom-related or otherwise.
Y’all can have your fucked-up ismicistic world.
I have chickens. I have fire and wheels and weird words that nobody knows but me. Ismicistic means everyone’s got to be a somethingist and embrace somethingism. Not the chicken farmer, not no more. I embrace nothing. I lay down my arms, my sword, my pen, my heart. So that means I give up on romantic embracement too.
Hey, maybe the only time anything really really buttery ever happens is after you’ve already surrendered to the bread: the plain old dry, crusty facts of your actual life, exactly what you actually have (e.g. chickens, chicken shit).
I really am going to Michigan, though. In August. I’m going to karate chop my chickens, pack up my pickup, and pitch my little one-farmer tent right smack in the war zone between the wimmin-born-wimmins and the boy-born-girlies, and I’m gonna eat nothing but raw red meat for a week, and lie around in the dirt, naked. Then when all the mosquitoes that bite me start biting everyone else on their vegetarian asses, they’ll all be infected by a meaty, greasy, good-natured carnivorousness, and the world will have been saved without anyone even realizing it.
My Michigan-born-wimminfriend Kizzer deserves a Nobel Warmth prize for teaching me to go to bed with hot water bottles, in lieu of lovers. I giggle and smile and think of her warmly every night as I crawl in under the covers and play footsy with Mr. Hotbelly. Talk about personal growth … I used to sleep with my socks on!
So Kizzer calls me at my brother’s house on a recent Sunday, says she’s been walking around Berkeley all day, smelling meat.
"Let’s be more specific," I said, searching for my pen, which I’d just laid down. Somewhere. "Barbecued? Braised? Broiled? Barbecued? What? Talk to me."
"Grilled," she says, after honestly thinking about it.
"OK, that’s kind of like barbecue. Let me make a few calls, borrow someone’s laptop, see what I can come up with."
K.C., Everett and Jones … been there, done them. There’s another one now called T-Rex, but it looks like high-brow barbecue, which is an oxymoron. And as much as I love oxen and morons, Kizzer and me had just accidentally dropped 40 bucks apiece at some Italian restaurant in the Mission the night before. We were both still reeling and a little nauseous over that.
So I called up Wayway, my go-to Berkeley eats consultant, and said, "Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap."
"Chicken farmer?" he said. "Is this you?"
Taiwan Restaurant, he said. Next door to McDonald’s on University. He said it was his favorite place for cheap Chinese food. Ever. Anywhere. And Chinese food ain’t barbecue, I’ll be the first to admit, but when Wayway described the pork noodle soup with mustard greens, it sounded like soul food to my ears. I told you I have this thing for soup right now. In fact, I’d almost rather eat soup than meat so long as the soup has meat in it, you understand.
I had to talk Kizzer into this. "It’s Chinese New Year!" I said. "It’s the Year of the Pork!"
She bit, and I slurped and slobbered and spilt my tea, I was so excited over the heap of noodles and greens and pork swirling majestically out of the broth like Alcatraz or other islandy, mountainous tourist attractions. With noodles and greens and pork all over them.
Get this: $4.50! For a meal-size bowl of soup. Six-fifty for a huge plate of beef and snow peas, and the meat was tender and the peas were snappy. And the pot stickers took 20 minutes to make and were so juicy and meaty and flavorous that you could almost believe in Santa Claus all over again.
Fifteen dollars stuffed us solid, and me again for lunch the next day. So … do I have a new favorite restaurant?
I do! *
Mon.Thurs., 11:30 a.m.11:30 p.m.; Fri., 11:30 a.m.12:30 a.m.; Sat., 10:30 a.m.12:30 a.m.; Sun., 10:30 a.m.11:30 p.m.
2071 University, Berk.