FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD! Thanks to the 1960s musical Oliver, this line comes to mind in full operatic glory every February when we focus on local cuisine. In the past, we’ve featured your favorite chefs; this year we celebrate a few family-run restaurants and highlight the importance of good eating choices.
When Greenbrae native Amy Sherman approached me with a Jonathan Gold–esque (the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times food writer) look at Marin’s food scene, I was intrigued. When I moved to Marin nearly 20 years ago, I found myself missing San Francisco’s Richmond District, a mecca of tasty, cheap Asian cuisine, and crossed the bridge a few times a week for takeout.
Back then, when it came to go-to to-go meal choices in my new town — I’ll insert a “no offense” to all the restaurateurs (and to my friends an additional “of course, I don’t mean you”) — I found my options to be overpriced and underwhelming. The low point came when I went to the deli near my house, eight months pregnant and dying for a falafel. I waddled to the counter, ordered, and when my item was delivered wrapped in a tortilla my heart sank. I paid and left the offensive log on the counter in protest. A gesture totally wasted because I didn’t have the guts to tell them why I was upset.
Eventually, I found my chickpea patty source at the now-defunct Strawberry’s European Deli, where they shoved mounds of thinly sliced iceberg lettuce, sweet tomatoes and tahini sauce (with the patties) into a warmed pita. I never knew why they closed. It’s important to remember that our smaller population (258K) makes it harder for restaurants to thrive compared to San Francisco (837K) and the East and South Bay regions, which come in at around 2.5 million people each. Despite this limitation, over the past two decades, I’ve found many great go-to to-go gems here in the county like the Harmony lunch special, India Palace samosas, Davey Jones Deli Vulcan Wrap and Kitti’s seafood soup.
In Nan Foster’s health-focused series she also focuses on food. When she came into the office to discuss writing this article, we quickly realized that we both wrote about nutrition for Self magazine back in the ’90s.
We mused about the good ol’ days of digging through archived medical journals at the library for story ideas. The internet was brand-new then and I recalled being taken in by a website I found where some pranksters had listed an impressive array of health benefits of a type of pork belly they called super bacon. Before I could reason with my own self, I had sent an elaborate pitch to Self.
I remembered likening these breakthroughs to Woody Allen’s notion of chocolate cake for breakfast in the 1973 movie Sleeper. I pressed send and imagined my well-heeled New York editor ecstatic to have such a worthy reporter in her flock. “Don’t believe everything you read,” was her quick response, and her disinterest in future pitches was the painful lesson I learned.
Today, I think we are all a little more discerning when it comes to online resources. In her article, Foster talks to three notable health experts here in Marin about the latest in science-based evidence on the idea of food as medicine. Sadly, bacon is not mentioned.