Pub date September 23, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS I take back everything I said about Kaiser. Not because the receptionist at the Oakland lab asked if my semen sample was my husband’s, and not because not one sperm was seen in said sample (although both these little details did make me smile) … but because the day after my incendiary diatribe hit the streets, causing widespread rioting or at least a knowing chuckle on the 21 Hayes bus, I got a phone call from an endocrinologist in Martinez.

A Kaiser endocrinologist, mind you.

Who was not a buffoon, mind you.

Rather, he spent more than an hour on the phone with me, which is longer talk-time than I had with my previous endocrinologist in four years, total. Whereas my previous n-doc said, and I quote, "Hormone therapy is not rocket science" (which is true, I admit, but still a pretty dumb thing to say while you are getting someone’s hormones all screwed up).

The new guy, who had researched my entire Kaiser career before he called, got it all back together, my hormones, my head … He knew every single thing about my medical past. He asked me questions no one else had ever asked, about my work, my mom, my kids, my opinions. He even asked me what my questions were, and when I said what they were, he answered them intelligently, patiently, and in detail, in many cases contradicting what other doctors had told me. An hour plus … on the phone!

While I was at work!

I’d never had a medical experience like this, where somebody both seems to care and has the time to do a thorough job of it. After we talked I got a long e-mail from him, putting it all in writing.

While we were talking, he completely rewrote my hormone regimen, likely adding 13 1/2 years to my life (just a guess). He made sure the new, safer prescription would be ready at the pharmacy of my choice by the next day. (It was!) He figured out the probable cause of my eight-week headache, effectively ending it on the spot. And, as if all that weren’t enough, he went ahead and gave me a hysterectomy.

"Excuse me?" I said.

He said he was putting it in the computer that I’d had a hysterectomy — that way I’d stop getting bugged by computerized notices and nurses about my next Pap smear.

To perform such a delicate operation over the phone seemed above and beyond the call of medicine; it bordered on miraculous. Dazzled by my new favorite doctor’s medical prowess, I neglected to mention that I actually love it when nurses try to schedule me for a Pap smear, or ask about my period, or if I’m pregnant — stuff like that. But I’m glad I didn’t say anything, because in retrospect I would gladly trade those fleeting moments of real-girl-glory for the even gloriouser distinction of having had an over-the-phone hysterectomy.

Who wouldn’t want one of those? I mean, Pap smears and periods come and go, but a hysterectomy is forever, even if you have it in a doctor’s office or operating room.

But speaking of carne asada, there’s the Sunrise Restaurant on 24th Street between Shotwell and Folsom. Judging from its name, and the extensive Latino and Americano breakfast choices on the menu, it’s more of a morning place. I went there at sunset, and wished I’d had breakfast for dinner.

The carne asada plate ($9.95) comes with black beans, rice, and salsa. OK: the steak was tough, and there’s nothing you can do about that but shake your head, maybe make a mental note to get something else next time. But: the beans and the rice really really wanted flavor. They didn’t taste like much of anything.

There are things you can do about that, one of which is called salsa. But the little tiny tin of what-they-call-salsa was surprisingly shockingly inedibly yucky.

Meaning: there won’t be a next time. When even the salsa sucks, you are sitting in an irredeemable restaurant. Or, in other words, ugh.

If it wasn’t for good old table top Tapatío, I would have gone away entirely undernourished. As it was, I went away caloried, but not much else. No nice taste in my mouth. No plan of ever returning. No good stories to tell.


Mon., Wed.–Thu.: 7 a.m.–8 p.m.;

Fri.–Sun.: 7 a.m.–9 p.m.

3126 24th St., SF

(415) 206-1219

Beer and wine


L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books).