Category: Food

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Grapes, Anyone?

Walking about my San Diego neighborhood, I see food growing everywhere—on personal property and in public places. Take your pick: Apples, avocados, grapefruits, lemons, lettuce, oranges, pomegranates, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, and watermelons—to name a few. Yesterday’s grape sighting adds to the list, but with surprise. I frequently walk by the location, several times a week for at least 10 years. How could I possibly have missed seeing clusters during past growing seasons?

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image—and companions that are presented to provide some locational context. Vitals for the first, aperture manually set for all: f/4, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:04 p.m. PDT, yesterday. You really want to click the link and zoom in.

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I Won’t Go Soft on Hard Seltzer

Before the Wilcoxes relocated to California from Maryland some thirteen-and-a-half years ago, I generally replaced soda with a couple tablespoons of apple juice mixed with a 12-ounce can of seltzer (e.g., carbonated water). But finding the bubbly proved to be really challenging in SoCal. A few stores stocked seltzer in quart-size plastic bottles but no cans and for considerably higher price than what we paid back East.

Then came LaCroix’s bold brand turnaround early in the last decade. Packaging makeover and consumer rage against sugary soda won over mainstream Millennials, ultimately leading to a seltzer surge—whether measured by increased number of brands, flavors, or sales. That’s good for me, now a drinker of straight seltzer; no juice added by my hands or artificial flavors by bottlers.

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A Valentine’s Day Story

A favored walking route from Old Trolley Barn Park is the alley between Alabama and Florida streets. Occasionally, Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) appears—and, on some days, Coon or Ghost (both nicknames) in an adjacent, expansive yard. Today, I passed by a woman either emptying recyclables or trash (not sure which) and she wished: “Happy Valentine’s Day”. She was cheerful, which emotion a higher-pitch voice accentuated. Her apartment overlooks the alley, and she recognized me from looking out her windows on other days.

The 35-year-old Salt Lake City native has resided in San Diego for about a decade. We talked about the terrible expense of living here, mainly housing, which she offsets by having a roommate and adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s several SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns put her on unemployment twice, which led her to become entrepreneurial, rather than depressed and destitute. Adapting her mom’s recipe, she bakes and sells chocolate chip cookies by the dozen—$15 a box.

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You Can Ride During the Pandemic, Why Not Eat?

I am a big fan of public transportation, particularly subway and trolley transits. No argument from me: During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19pandemic, public transportation is a necessary service that gets people without cars to the grocery store, pharmacy, or, if essential workers, to their jobs.

Something bothers me: If San Diegans are safe enough riding in an enclosed bus for, say, 20 to 40 minutes, why does California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom consider open-air dining to be risker and, therefore, is prohibited? I surely would worry much more about being inside a bus for any length of time, where riders feeling asphyxiated—particularly older folks who are more likely to be on board and are high-risk to catch COVID-19—pull down masks below their noses and even their mouths. Can you say super-spreader event? Because I surely can.

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If the Lockdown Lasts Long Enough…

I am so tempted to buy a can of spray paint and replace that last zero in twenty-twenty with a one. Because given that Southern California’s COVID-19 crackdown continues unabated—and that the restaurant couldn’t have opened in “Early Fall” because of it—autumn twenty-twenty-one looks ever more realistic. That assumes the place isn’t forced into insolvency, like so many other local eateries. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 113 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

These businesses are prohibited from seating customers, indoors or outdoors; take-out and delivery are the only options, and they don’t generate enough revenue to keep operations aloft. The widening spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective killing the pandemic. But they sure look likely to massively massacre small- and medium-size businesses.

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Must Dark Chocolate Taste Bad to Be Good?

The answer depends upon your tastebuds and eating habits. In July 2013, following a diabetic health scare, I voluntarily adopted a low-carb, low-sugar diet—and the latter isn’t easy, given how much sugar is added to everything. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, “For most Americans, the main sources of added sugars are sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, desserts, and sweets”. I stopped eating all these things seven years ago. Granny Smith Apple is my main treat; dark chocolate is the other.

In a relatively recent change, the FDA requires “added sugar” to be included on a packaged food’s Nutrition Label along with the overall total—the remainder being naturally occurring. The amounts can be staggering. For example, in a half-cup (130 grams) of Bush’s Baked Beans (original recipe) there are 12 grams of sugar —11 of them added, for 22 percent of the daily recommended total of 50 grams if consuming a 2,000-calorie diet. But other organizations recommend much less intake. The American Heart Association guidance is no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. Ladies, one cup of Bush’s would fill your daily quota.

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Let the People Eat

For what did Rudford’s have to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day last week? I wonder, as the COVID-19 crackdown prohibits indoor dining and imposes a 10-p.m.-to-5-a.m. curfew that impinges on the 24-hour diner’s normal operations. Eateries across California—and the country—are beaten back because of rising confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) infections, which are misidentified by politicians and the news media as cases. Most people testing positive are not sick nor will they be hospitalized.

In the weekly report released today: 81,084 people have tested positive (e.g., confirmed cases) for COVID-19 since San Diego County started tracking data in February. Median age: 35. Number of deaths: 997, with a median age of 76. No one died in the week ended Nov. 28, 2020. Case fatality rate: 1.2 percent. Stated differently, if you live in SDC and test positive your chance of surviving the Novel Coronavirus is 98.8 percent.

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What a Sign Foreshadows

Across the country this Thanksgiving holiday, the dire circumstance is businesses closing forever because of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—local lockdown and stay-at-home orders that keep away customers and choke revenue. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 109 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

Many businesses that had reopened during the summer are closing again as states seek to combat rising Novel Coronavirus cases. For the record, the use of cases is grossly misleading; the numbers actually refer to positive tests, which doesn’t mean that someone is sick—and most likely not. Eighty percent (or more) of people contracting COVID-19 are asymptomatic or mildly ill. Regardless, restrictions are everywhere, placed by (hopefully) well-meaning governors.

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Flickr a Week 34: ‘Mel’s Drive-In’

For the previous 33 weeks, I wondered what photo from Thomas Hawk would make the series—something that was inevitable; more when than if. I figured that the time would come when I’d know the one, and self-titled “Mel’s Drive-In” is it. What a splendid shot by every meaningful measure, but same could be said of anything in his Photostream. Funny, though, the eatery is in Florida and not California, where Thomas lives, and was location for film “American Graffiti” that so prominently made Mel’s an essential element of the story.

He captured the moment on July 14, 2019, using Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 2500, 1/400 sec, 24mm.

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The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

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Carport Lettuce

This morning, my wife and I scampered down an alley behind North Ave., between Madison and Monroe, to look at new construction—a rapidly rising multi-unit building that replaces what was once a charming house with lovely yards front and back; before bulldozers leveled the lot.To our delight, further along, we discovered a suburban-style lettuce patch that someone is growing in a carport. How clever!

Like the Urban Pumpkin, the leafy plantation joins an explosion of garden projects throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. This summer’s sowings are  unlike anything that I have seen in nearly 13 years living here. Could it be that people stuck at home because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic are using the time to garden? Perhaps some people (rightly) worry about supply-chain disruptions and food shortages savaging the country later in the year. Whatever the reason(s), inventive green thumbs are hard at work growing crops in unexpected places.