My Saturday Ritual
On Saturday’s in San Diego, I make a point of going to the Little Italy Farmer’s Market. While not as popular as the one in Hillcrest, I really enjoy the fact that I don’t need to throw elbows at people so I can pick the fruits and vegetables I desire. Having grown up shopping in San Francisco’s Chinatown, or on Irving, or Geary Street –believe me I’ve learned a few things by watching (or being hit by) the little old Chinese ladies doing their weekly shopping. Although I can throw a few elbows if necessary, I prefer a more tranquil marketing experience. The other reason I shop the local Farmer’s Market as much as possible is influenced by the movie, Food Inc. If you haven’t watched it, check it out.
Today, I realized that summer is truly here. Some wait for the warm, sunny, beach weather –but having grown up in the fog of San Francisco’s “Sunset” District, I’m used to cold summers and don’t use the sun as a visual indicator that the season has arrived. If you are a “real” San Franciscan, you know that there is no such thing as seasons –and that in fact Mark Twain was right when he said, “The coldest winter I’ve ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. “ I digress. How I mark the beginning of summer is the fruit. Today, I came home with plums, nectarines, peaches, and cherries. The start of summer, for me, is marked by access to some of the best seasonal fruit around. Although we may not be experiencing seasonal San Diego weather, we can rest assured that summer is here based on the fruit we have access to.
In addition to picking up groceries, going to this market allows me to stop by a few of my favorite San Diego spots. First on that list is Assenti Pasta. They make THE BEST homemade gourmet pasta. I am so addicted to this pasta that I now find it hard to go back to the packaged dry stuff. If I feel like keeping it simple, I will cook up some of their spaghetti and mix in some pesto that I purchased from the BasilTops booth at the Farmer’s Market (basiltops.com) and throw in some grilled chicken. Other times, I will cook up some fish and veggies and pair it with the lemon basil pasta. If I’m feeling adventurous I will attempt to cook my friend Nicole’s seafood pasta recipe. I always miss something in the recipe, but for those who haven’t tried Nicole’s seafood pasta it passes as a pretty good dinner.
My second stop is at Pete’s Meats for their half Italian Sausage, half meatball sandwich topped with peppers and onions of course. This is an absolute hole in the wall/ dive that makes a great sandwich. I don’t stop here just for the food though, I am always amazed by the people who work and hang out at this shop. Out front, there is usually a group of four or five old timers speaking in fluent Italian. Inside, the guy who makes the sausage is always speaking in Italian to the Latina cook who answers him in fluent Spanish. It’s really a fascinating sight that can only be fully understood from watching. As a sociologist, I find myself wondering how they settled on this multilingual form of communication. What gets lost in translation? I also wonder why the old-timers come to this specific spot. Is it like the older Korean men who congregate in specific McDonald’s in many major urban centers? The guy who runs the joint has worked their twenty years, and I decided that I immediately liked him because during one of my first visits to the place saw a guy wearing a Jerry Rice’s Raider Jersey and said it “looked wrong.” If you’re a San Franciscan, it is absolutely unacceptable to acknowledge that Jerry Rice played for the Raiders or that Joe Montana played for the Chiefs.
My final stop is usually Café Italia. In fact, I’m at the Café right now, typing this entry. Free wifi, and you can sit inside or outside. I like working here because I can pretend to be outside while being productive. The people, music, and ambience is conducive to working –but also makes an excellent place to just sit back and people watch. I can spend hours here reading, writing, and thinking. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they make a good cup of coffee too. On days where a little decadence is called for, my final stop is not the Café. I will end my journey to Little Italy by going to PappaLecco’s for some gelato. Now, there are numerous debates on who serves the best gelato in San Diego, but my vote is PappaLecco’s. Try their lemon or berry flavors. Delicious.
Well, there’s my Saturday ritual. Simple, fun –and clearly filled with food.