We took a public bus today to the Mission district, to the bakery/café Tartine as recommended by Lisa N. Toff. I had a morning bun – a take on cinnamon bun- and warm brioche bread pudding with fresh cranberries, and also sampled Kenny’s gougere – all three the work of culinary genius. The morning bun – sweet dough sprinkled with some cinnamon and rolled into a bun with soft middle and crusty outside. The pudding was soaked in some kind of sweet milky sabstance and the sweetness of the main body was complemented by the tartness of the berries, while gougere was a ball of cheesy dough with moist and flaky inside. All was washed down with an excellent cup of coffee. Having eaten our fill, we headed for the walking tour of the neighborhood known for its murals. The Mission is actually two neighborhoods in one: one is poor and Latin and the other is poor but artsy and hip. Architecturally, this poor cousin of SF fancy neighborhoods does not much differ from its upscale cousins. Same Victorians, Art Deco, and ornate gingerbread houses, only in dire need of paint and cleaning. Local stores cater to the poor which is reflected in the featured merchandise and pitiful window displays. But what the area lacks in cleanliness and bright paint is partially compensated by the bright murals covering many houses and entire alleys. They mostly feature African and Native American faces and themes and bright colors on the facades of the abundant Latin restaurants and grocery stores create a feeling of being on a Caribbean island.
On the bus back to Jason’s apartment we were wedged between a big African American man who was incessantly chanting in what I thought was an African tongue, until my ears caught some clearly native English words, and an elderly man with parchment-thin and yellowish skin sporting a wig of thick black hair askew on his head worn over huge ears. This city is home to more weirdos than I have seen anywhere else! They come off as either actors from a variety show, escapees from a freak show, or aged scruffy westerners hailing from the last century’s frontier towns.
People here don’t seem to care much about style and outward appearance but they take great care to eat well. Yesterday, we dined at a fine Peruvian restaurant on the waterfront and today are headed to a restaurant featuring new American cuisine. Tomorrow is Indian.