One of the great things about Big Cities of the World is that they present so much variety. If it is a true Big City, that is (this is why Cleveland, even with its 2.5 million inhabitant, doesn’t qualify; it’s too one-dimensional). Here, for example, is a sunrise:
A sunrise you can get anywhere, of course, but different places have their own kinds of sunrises. There are sunrises over fields of wheat, sunrises over dramatic stones, sunrises over skyscrapers. Each place takes the experience and makes it unique.
It’s the same with buildings. There are books upon treatises upon tomes about different types of buildings, varying with function, era, architect, materials, but I’m highlighting location as a key variable here. Some buildings you look at and think, “San Francisco,” or “Home.”
This one makes me feel at home because it has many of the characteristics of the home and neighborhood I grew up in: Victorian era, color, craftsmanship, greenery. But it also has those stairs, which make it different, and that narrow citified look, which makes it take on a completely different personality as a building. (I love how the people here have put up fabric in the glass part of their door for extra richness of palette). So to recap, we have sunrises, buildings…
And I can’t visit anywhere without sampling the baked goods, can I??
No, the answer is no.
I stopped at a delightful [chain] bakery called La Boulange on my long walk from the Mission to Downtown. I had poked my head in one or two before this one, but they were both too expensive and not cheery enough. This place hit my expectations on the mark. I had planned to walk leisurely from where I was staying in the Mission up through Hayes Valley and zigzagging up Market St. to meet my mom and a friend of the family at Samovar for lunch.
I adored the homey, folksy, clunky yet cute style of the bakery, and enjoyed ‘un bol’ de chocolat chaud, avec un croissant magnifique. I wrote a bit, observing, listening to a French family at one of the round tables, not unlike the one I sat at growing up.
Here’s a bit of the character of the place- the small type at the bottom of the functional yet whimsical service sign says, “We have decided to be happy because it is good for our health.” It’s like a kick of cowboy boots for fun. So now we have seen a sunrise, some buildings, the bakery,it must be time for some culture.
I had singled out the small Museum of Craft and Folk Art on my itinerary because they had a Corita Kent exhibit that would end the day I left, so I figured it was meant to be. Corita was an interesting 20th century American artist, especially since she started out as a Catholic nun.
She bucked a lot of trends.
Here is an excerpt from a page that has the 10 Rules for the art classes she oversaw at the Immaculate Heart College Art Department:
An important lesson, and one which is a good reminder at certain times.
After I met with my mom and Gayle and had a delightfully modern concoction of teas and amuse-bouches (see the commentary on the tea vintage above for a comparison with bombastic wine connoisseurs), it was time to journey on to another feature of the Big City: community gatherings.
Now, as I said in my last post, I’ve never actually lived in San Francisco (yet), but I had heard about a local organization that does urban foraging for edibles, home cooking, and promotion of local food artisans, all causes which I can get behind. I had signed up for their newsletter, hoping that I could go on a food walk the one day that I would be in town (talk about trusting to fate). It turned out there would be no walk, but there would be a foraged dinner. Well.
I signed up.
It was pretty great. There was a many-coursed meal lit by candles, served by volunteers, foraged from city neighborhoods or local producers. Much of it was very good, and the few things that weren’t settled for being fascinating. And as I had come on my own, I met the 4 people on my right and talked with them for the several hours that the meal lasted, making some new friends in this City that contains so many worlds of interest.