Pub date January 30, 2008
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink


CHEAP EATS Bernie Jungle made me a frittata, then got the ladder out, and we went onto his roof to look at the chimney.

"It’s going to snow," I said.

He didn’t argue. Bernie did time in Cleveland, and he can feel when it’s going to snow as well as I can. He just moved to my neck of the woods from Oakland and now lives five minutes east of Occidental, in Sebastopol. I live five minutes west of Occidental, in Occidental. It’s complicated math, or cartography, but not as complicated as the meteorology of two aging Ohio punks on a Northern California rooftop knowing it’s going to snow. Even though, of course, it never snows here.

Except sometimes it does.

Anyway, we couldn’t figure out why his wood stove wouldn’t work, not even by standing on the roof with our hands in our pockets looking at the chimney and knowing it was going to snow. So we climbed back down the ladder. I thanked him for the frittata and headed home, stopping in town for a chicken so as not to have to kill one of my own. Because I’d be damned if I was going to let a rare Sonoma County snowstorm pass me by without lighting the grill.

I’m not sure how to explain why when it snows my thoughts turn to barbecue rather than snowballs, snowmen, or even hot chocolate. It’s complicated psychology. Another way of looking at it is that my thoughts are just stuck on barbecue, period, and always will be, no matter what the fuck — rain, snow, sleet, or hail, for example. I’m like a sexaholic, or the United States mail delivery system.

In which case I should have taken off Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but no. I stopped at the expensive little hippie grocery store in Occidental and bought me a chicken. When I went in it was raining, and when I came out it was snowing.

A young woman with a white face and the shakes was getting out of her car, saying to a young man with dreadlocks, "It’s a good thing I grew up in the Midwest."

"Why?" Dreadlocks asked.

The roads around here are steep and winding. And slick, even when they’re only wet. It couldn’t have been snowing for more than three minutes, but the streets were white. It was dumping. I clutched my chicken a little tighter to my chest and was glad I grew up in the Midwest too.

Five minutes later I arrived safe and sound at my little shack in the woods, and even though my elevation is 223 feet higher than town proper, there was no sign of snow. I hadn’t been home since the morning before. My chickens were glad to see their farmer and even gladder to see the little chicken-size bag in her hand.

"It’s going to snow," I said to them on my way into the shack, where it was in the low 40s. I could see my breath. "It’s going to snow," I said to Weirdo the Cat. "Maybe even in here."

It didn’t snow. I got a fire going inside, then I got a fire going outside, but it never did snow. Not even outside. I stood there in the woods, in the weather, with my arms outstretched, palms up, and my tongue out, like a little kid, pausing every 15 minutes or so to flip the chicken.

Which came out great, by the way, but no thanks to meteorological anomalies. The great blizzard of ’08 had lasted approximately five minutes, and the only casualties were a young Midwestern girl’s nerves and a middle-aged Midwestern girl’s $13.16. I would never have paid $2.99 per pound for a chicken if I didn’t think I was going to get to cook it in the snow!

On the other hand, now I can write it off on my taxes, like love and laser treatments and all the other expensive subjects Cheap Eats wrassles with. Rum, laptops, record albums. Soccer shoes, league dues. Boots. Bras. Train tickets … I reckon I might actually save money by spending it, and wish I could explain how.

It’s complicated economics.

My new favorite restaurant is Metro Kathmandu. A companion had just asked a provocative question: what was the strangest thing I’d ever buttered? I was carefully considering my answer while buttering my lamb curry burger and french fries ($10) when the waitressperson offered us a round of free mimosas. It was a January brunchtime-only promotion, so I guess it’s over. But still …


Brunch: Sat.–Sun., 9:30 a.m .–2:30 p.m. Dinner: Tues.–Sun., 5:30–11 p.m.

311 Divisadero, SF

(415) 552-0903

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