Bodies and bacon

Pub date November 24, 2010
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS My new friends are young and queer and, most important, bikers, so I get to hang out at Benders where the burgers have whiskey and bits of bacon in them. Many of my new friends are vegetarian, which saves me from the awkwardness of having big fat crushes on them. My crushes are small and skinny and eat veggie burgers.

We’re starting a team in the girls football league. Remember, I wrote about them a few years back? I used to go to games on Sundays, and it was inspiring and scary. So scary that I tried to get on a team, but they never called me.

I can’t wait to play that team! It will be a made-for-TV movie made in heaven.

Probably, because I grew up in Ohio, I will have to start out at one of the so-called “skill positions,” such as running back or wide receiver, where I will bide my time making diving one-hand catches and long, slash-and-burn touchdown runs (yawn). But once I have earned everyone’s respect with my off-the-field poetry and appreciation for opera, maybe then they will move me to the offensive line.

Which is, as anyone who has ever played electric football knows, the most important position on the field.

Our coach, whom we call Coach, is such a consummate athlete that she doesn’t need to eat meat or rice. Fueled by air and eagerness, and maybe sometimes whiskey, she routinely wins bike races! And if anyone else enters, she comes in third. She lives in the Mission and owns at least three bikes that I know of, yet dates a motor vehicle. Coach jokes about never leaving the neighborhood, which is bullshit because I met her in a pond in Sonoma County. Interestingly, we were skinny dipping.

Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s not interesting.

How about if I described all my new friends’ bodies in full detail? This way everyone in the world will want to go skinny-dipping with me from now on! I’m kidding, of course. Respectfulness may not be my strong suit, let alone my swimsuit, but there are some lines I know better than to cross.

I’ll only describe Coach’s body — because our friendship I think can handle it, and anyway she’ll be on a three-week bike ride by the time this comes out, somewhere between here and San Luis Obispo, far far from newsstands.

How she does this shit — without fettuccini, I mean — I will never know. But the other day I ate Chinese food with Coach and Fiver, and I swear that all the rice on the table, and all but maybe one or two of the noodles wound up in me. The meat goes without saying.

The restaurant was Mission Chinese Food, which everyone has been singing about since I moved back to the neighborhood. It’s the restaurant inside the restaurant (Lung Shan) on Mission at 18th Street. You can believe what people are singing. It’s pretty special, despite its name.

I mean, where else can you get “thrice-cooked bacon” or “tingly lamb noodle soup”? And the bacon can be vegan, and still damn good, and the soup comes in a “numbing lamb broth.”

Which … they mean it. It’s a Szechwan spice, or herb, that literally numbs your mouth, and it was in the pickled beans and pickled pickles too. I don’t like that. I loved the flavor of everything I ate, even the fake bacon, but I’m sorry, I just don’t understand the point of numbness, except with respect to dentistry.

Folks, I want to feel what I eat. The not-at-all-fake lamb belly in the sizzling cumin lamb, for example, was a heavenly blend of crispy, tender, salty, peppery, game-flavored meat outside with an interior layer of soft, buttery, clouds of juicy joy.

Now I know what you’re thinking: No! There is no way that she’s that sexy.

I’m just saying. My job is to review restaurants. Your job, if you drive a car in California, is to go slow, watch the road, and see bicycles. Thanks for reading.


Mon.–Sat.: 11 a.m.–10:30 p.m.;

Sun.: noon–10 p.m.

(inside Lung Shan Restaurant);

2234 Mission, SF

(415) 826-2800


Beer and wine