Whorls away

Pub date May 22, 2012
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats


CHEAP EATS Way out in the water.

A severed head, a small treasure in gold, or drugs, my own death, fish, a baby in a basket, the murder weapon, the meaning of life, peace and quiet, a clue .. . A long time ago, when I was fearless, I swam toward something. That’s how curious I was. It could have been anything, but I had to know.

Now, I can float. I like to think I can float.

Then, I was a pretty good swimmer. I could swim, see me swimming?

My people on the shore, Moonpie, Baby Rae, and Moonpie’s now resting-in-peace sister, Sweetpee … they didn’t know where I was going, because the fearless don’t always say.

They watched. They worried. And they must have seen what I was seeing — this bobbing thing, way out on the horizon.

As the ocean floor sloped and sloped and sloped away from my kicking feet, they watched, helpless and wondering, and I suppose I got a rise out of this.

Good. Risings was what I needed then, maybe even more than treasure. What it was, though, that I risked my ass for all those years ago, was an Igloo cooler with a half a loaf of sliced white bread in it, an open package of lunch meat, and mustard. Or in other words: sandwiches.

I risked my life for sandwiches!

And I don’t even particularly like sandwiches, I thought, watching a matzoh ball bob in my bowl of matzoh ball soup. That is so David Copperfield.

And these were some hard-earned matzoh balls. Not only because Soup Freaks is off my beaten path (unless I happen to be BARTing to a ballgame), but also because the matzoh gods were not looking out for me, on this particular day.

“Matzoh ball soup!” I said.

And the serverwomanperson digged and dug and couldn’t find hardly no matzoh balls in that there silver thingie of soup. Just one, and some broken off pieces of a couple others.

“Hold on a second,” she said, stepping away from the counter and returning, many months later, with a bag of frozen ones. At least they looked like they were frozen.

At least it seemed like many months.

Anyway, she was fixing to pour them into the vat when, apparently, a thought occurred to her: Did I want to wait for them to warm up, or…

“I’ll just take it as is,” I said, and that was how I wound up with a bowl of matzoh ball soup without hardly any matzoh balls in it. My fault, let the record show.

Theirs: to compensate, probably, they gave me three big pieces of bread — which seemed pretty generous, but I would have rather had a bigger bowl of soup with more things in it. I mean, classically, matzoh ball soup is not the most populated bowl of soup in the world, but, really? No carrots? No celery?

What little chicken there was was really not very good. It was peppered, and dry. Very dry. And there’s nothing worse than dry chicken in soup. Well, except maybe dry chicken outside of soup.

So I’m afraid I’m going to have to break with tradition here and declare Soup Freaks “just another restaurant.”

Not my new favorite.

David Copperfield, on the other hand. On the other hand, the Pixies. I haven’t read or listened to it or them in quite a while, respectively; but at times like these, when everything starts going wrong and doesn’t seem to want to right itself, we will grab at books and songs, if not straws.

If not drinks.

If not lunch itself.

See me swimming? Between waves, a mile from shore … the skinny girl, kicking frantically, breathing hard, and holding on for dear buoyancy to flotsam, jetsam, to little coolers full of someone else’s sandwiches. That’s me.


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(415) 543-7687


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