Double stuff

Pub date August 30, 2011
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS Did you ever have one of those dreams, you know, where you know it’s too good to be true and yet there it is, so you decide to keep dreaming, to let it be true for as long as possible, please, because eventually the alarm’s going to go off and you are going to wake up and eat your oatmeal and start having to answer to your exact life again, the real one, with mosquito bites and carsickness in it?

My roommate looked like Elvis Costello in 1977. She picked up the box of Oreo cookies, examined it, then made a face and went, “These would be good if it weren’t for that gross stuff in the middle. Eww — and there’s more of it than usual! Does anyone mind if I just eat the halves without the white stuff?”

I stood there, in the middle of this kitchen, pinching myself. This can’t be happening, I thought. I must be dreaming.

Then: Go with it. Just .. . go.

“Oh, I don’t mind, I suppose,” I said, twisting an Oreo in half, stuffing the double-stuffed half into my mouth and conceding to my new favorite roommate ever the half that, in real life, no one wants.

“Thank you so much, roomie,” she said. “You’re the best!”

“It’s OK,” I said, sighing as if my reward would be in heaven. As if this weren’t already heaven, this magical land where your roommate takes what most people leave in the bottom of the cookie jar — or wish they could — in that otherworldly, distant world called, the world.

On the beach — which is just off our balcony, btw — turtles hatch almost nightly, and someone stands in the surf with a red light, luring the cute little adorables, hundreds at a time, toward the Caribbean and away from the condos.

Last night I was sipping tea under a thatched straw umbrella, listening to the waves, watching the lightning, and talking with Beth about her novel and my short story project . . . when all of a sudden a mama sea turtle came lumbering out of the surf and onto the beach next to us.

“So,” I said, “what are you working on?”

She didn’t say. You’re supposed to show, not tell, and turtles know this. She flapped her powerful flippers, digging a huge hole in the sand, breaking for breath more than she was actually digging. But getting the job done.

It took hours, and two tries, and then we got to watch her lay her eggs. When she finally had packed and buried them to her liking, and made her way one small step at a time, huffing and puffing, to the water’s edge, and in, we cheered.

This is an endangered species, only here you wouldn’t know it. The beach is lined with nests, encircled by stones, and marked with a dated wooden cross that in this dream doesn’t mean death but new life — for reals! Sixty days later.

Yo, nine weirdo writers from the Bay Area, L.A., New York, Phoenix, and Amherst, Mass. are invited by RADAR Productions to Akumal, Mexico to write and eat together for ten days, and not one of the nine is vegetarian, let alone vegan.

Pinch me.

Ow!! I woke up. I do miss my baby, not to mention my babies, and I’m trying to remember another distant dream in which my dear Hedgehog and I are oh so very hungry in one of those first-place-we-see kind of ways, when: wham! At the corner of Balboa and 5th Avenue: Muguboka.

It’s not bad Korean, and affordable — at lunchtime anyway. For only $8 and $9 we had bulgogi and galbi (or marinated steak and short ribs, in lay terms) and no less than 12 different band cheeses (or little bowls of delicious things, in lay terms).

Those little tiny crunchy fishes was one. Kimchi. I wish I could show-not-tell you all 12, but my memory has been erased by some of the most fantastickest meals imaginable, here in Mexico. Last night: the first bowl of tortilla soup I ever truly loved. If they were a restaurant, our camp cooks, Other Beth and Only Christina, would be my new favorite one. Instead:


Mon.-Sat.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun. 5-11 p.m.

401 Balboa St., S.F.

(415) 668-6007

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