Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tonight at Green Apple: Chef Christy Morgan (Also: Food)

Nothing to do and no food in the fridge for tonight? Swing by Green Apple at 7PM to catch chef Christy Morgan in a discussion about her new cookbook, Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet. Morgan shows readers how to make healthy, delicious, animal-product free meals without a lot of effort. And if you don't believe it, come taste it -- Morgan will be bringing samples of her delicious treats for the audience to enjoy as they hear her presentation on the importance of plant-based diets and eating local, organic, seasonal foods, followed by a Q&A. There will likely be enough to go around, but these things can get crowded in our cozy Granny Smith Room-- so if you want to guarantee yourself a seat and some food at the presentation, all you have to do is pre-order the book that you're going to want anway after you taste Morgan's cooking. We'll take pre-orders right up to 6PM.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Platform, Publication and Death

After last week's Zinefest in Golden Gate Park I took a moment to swing by The Great Overland Book Company where this sign (above) made me chuckle aloud... then a moment later I it reminded me of a blub I'd read somewhere a month or two ago, that FOXCONN had picked up the contract for Amazon's new tablet/e-reader thingy... hm. Well, why not? They already assemble and produce The Kindle, and if you've already got the right candidate for a job then you should just go ahead and keep 'em around full time. It just makes good business sense.

You know FOXCONN, right? Personally I'm on the brink of an obsession, largely due to the fact that it is so difficult to glean much concrete information on the company itself. They tend to shun reporters from what I've gathered thus far and it's not hard to imagine why. The location itself sounds like the setting for some bizarre sci-fi novel in translation, a walled compound more akin to a labor camp than a workplace, with a history of worker dispute, deadly accidents and on site suicide (fourteen in 2010). Did you know that prolonged exposure to mercury promotes psychosis, hallucination, delirium and suicidal tendency? What a grim realization to make while downloading a "jazzy" anthology of Garison Keillor curated poetry (selection!).

My love and excitement for the handcrafted publication stoked that day at Zinefest, but the important and foreboding message at the bookshop was an abstract reminder of exactly what the polar opposite can be, and the means behind its production. Funny because one of the zines I picked up, Cabeza by Aaron Kaneshiro featured a Mac's "loading" image incorporated into the background on one page. I'm told that synchronicity is everywhere. Still, how did we ever excessively complicate something so simple as reading a good book?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mission Street Food, the book

More or less monthly, I review a cookbook for Tablehopper (a weekly email chronicling all things food and drink in SF--you should subscribe). Here's last week's review:

NOTE: The authors dropped by, so you should get a SIGNED one while we have them (never too early to start your holiday shopping?).

Mission Street Food (MSF)--as a restaurant, a movement, whatever--is hard to explain. Mission Street Food--the new book by MSF founders Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz--is not.

MSF started in 2008 with Myint and Leibowitz sub-letting a taco truck once a week to serve fusion food and fresh-baked cookies to Mission denizens. The goal was to have fun, not make much money, raise money for charity, and cook. When "the man" shut that down, more or less, the couple rented a run-down Chinese restaurant once a week. Then guest chefs were invited. MSF became twice a week. And the story continues, evolving into a fascinating look at a period in SF food history before crème brulee street carts and pop-up restaurants became ubiquitous.

mission street food

The book starts with the story of Myint's father, a Chinese refugee from Burma, and how his brief life story illuminated most of the principles for what MSF became: "willfulness, naïveté, resourcefulness, altruism, moral flexibility, putative insanity, and a compulsion to use food efficiently."

The story is both improbable and inspiring. The manic energy of the couple, their adaptability, and their passion comes through in the first-person narrative that comprises the backbone of this book from local publisher McSweeney's. It's a he-said, she-said form that reads smoothly, and it more or less follows the venture's growth, mistakes, foibles, and successes.

There are also some interesting sub-sections: a chapter of MSF's history is told in graphic novel form; a 2-page profile of Sara Miles, director of the Food Pantry at St. Gregory's; and a revealing 3-page aside about the collision of cultures in the kitchen as white hipsters sat alongside Chinese residents and two (or more) cultures shared a kitchen.

Then there's an 80-page section about the food, recipes that are as eclectic as everything else around this project. The recipes are creative and clear, with precise instructions alongside vibrant photos.

Mission Street Food is a beautiful book, too: hefty, colorful, even downright shiny in the right light. At $30, it's pretty reasonable, too.