the dirty dozen, part three: the latest issue of the ladymag is dead and you, dozen, you are next

07 my friend meg, a sort-of newcomer to san francisco, asked me about "adorable yet affordable" restaurants in russian hill (the neighborhood where joe and i lived for three years) yesterday afternoon. oddly, i had nothing for her:* we didn't do a lot of dining out close to home, and we also lived in SF at the height of dot com weirdness and flux ('00-'03): a lot of things that existed back then are long gone now, even in our slowest-to-change old 'hood. i'm not especially helpful with recommendations here in new york, either, come to think of it: only a handful of restaurants in hell's kitchen get my seal of approval. is it that proximity breeds contempt?** that i'm extra-conservative when local cred is at stake? that when we bother to get up from the couch, we go far, far away to make the most of inertia? is this problem familiar to you?

08 speaking of food that is awesome, i am frequently disparaged for recommending and/or preparing things that are too spicy for most people to enjoy eat. the feedback that fire burns out the other flavors in my chili is particularly hurtful; i can still taste everything else, thank you. i asked the internets to exonerate me, but science flavors the bland, at least on this point: researchers have found that capsaicin decreases sensitivity to sweetness, bitterness, and umami (the element of taste triggered by MSG). that said, sensitivity to sourness and saltiness aren't affected, and everyone knows those are the two best elements of taste, anyway. also, capsaicin prevents cancer, has anti-inflammatory properties, increases metabolic activity, and makes you a better lover. you can take or leave my chili; i'm just saying.

09 after returning to salon's broadsheet blog to re-read a horrifying post on pre-wedding dieting (one fifth of the women in a fitness survey said they'd postpone their wedding if they hadn't met their weight goal in time; more than half of the women in a cornell study said they'd use "extreme dieting methods" to lose weight), i hopped to a new post on a love song for ladies' rooms from the wall street journal online:
[L}adies' room banter is an endless source of wisdom and comfort. My ladies' room crowd includes a fashion maven, a globetrotter who knows every good cheap restaurant in Paris, Berkeley and Hong Kong, a marriage counselor, several cancer survivors and a bevy of super-moms. They've guided me about how to survive pre-school interviews and college tours and which internist to choose in my health-care plan. They've advised me about where to get the best cocktail dress, haircut and beach house that won't break my budget. The time I've saved shopping, searching for doctors and worrying about my daughter because of advice gleaned in my office ladies' room has added up to months of work for my company and saved me from numerous multitask meltdowns.
the WSJ piece feels wildly outdated to me: i have the occasional significant conversation with my boss in the loo, but that's because we coincide there more than anywhere else (she's almost never at her desk). my office chats graphically all over the place all the time, which could be because we're one big ladies' room; i think the candor is more generational than gender-based, though. then again, i've been in situations like this one for most of my working life: how would i know?

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 do you find yourselves resenting strangers at the gym, internets? if so, what are their crimes?

02 spices: proof that the universe is fond of us, or brutish dish-killers?

03 is the ladies' room a special, special place?

*i of course thought of something just now, though. go to nick's crispy tacos (a nightclub that turns into a taco shack during the day), meg! draped velvet and cholula, together at last!

**lord knows i'm hard on The Canadian Whimperer, a frighteningly hairy old regular at our gym who cranks his treadmill too high and grips the heart rate sensors like his life will end if he lets go.


babyjo said...

1. yes. there's this chick that ends up on the elliptical next to me strangely often and she sings along with her iPod. very loudly. and it's in hebrew.

2. it's all love, man. where would we be without le spice? *not to mention, spicy peppers are the new ginger was the new pomegranate, in terms of cocktail ingredients. forgive me for that, but it's true.

Ma said...

3) Ladies room as safe harbor: it's where I secreted myself while phoning an SOS to you during the 'blind date from hell'...

Meg said...

So the answer turned out to be Nook, on the corner of Jackson & Hyde. My sources tell me it's actually on NOB hill, but whatever. It's about 2 blocks from Russian hill. The cable cars turn the corner there, so you see them on both sides of you while eating. They just do sandwiches, but it's wee and adorable and EMPTY at dinner. That and they sell bottles of wine for $20. Good night.

Next up, crispy tacos. Though I'm really pushing to try the taco truck out in the Mission.