CHEAP EATS This week's madcap adventure begins with a cute little kitten toddling into the chicken farmer's life and saying, in effect, "Help!" Must of been abandoned by its mama. People sometimes abandon cute little kittens too, in the wild, but usually not out back behind the water tank. They leave them in a box by the road.
So OK, what to do with a cute little kitten, so small it can barely stand and doesn't quite know how to eat yet? I took it inside my shack and showed it to a platter of milk and Weirdo the Cat. Maybe in the back of Weirdo's indoor-atrophied peanut brain she would have enough residual mothering instinct to teach a hungry helpless furball how to lap up milk.
Weirdo sniffed the cute little kitten, hissed, and went and hid behind the wood stove. The c.l.k. toddled across to the milk, did a little Jesus dance, and continued to cry and whine. I called my brother and sister-in-love, who both have better brains than mine. "What to do with a cute little kitten?" I asked their voice mail.
Deevee called me back almost immediately and said, "No way. I just ran into Jen Hallflower today and she asked me if I knew where she could get a kitten!"
I was on my way to the city anyway, so I packed up the c.l.k. and took her with me. At the gas station in Petaluma, I got some medicine that came with a dropper, rinsed the dropper out with water, filled it with milk, and squirted it into the kitten's eye. She cried little white tears onto her leg and licked them. So she knew how to clean herself. Good.
I dirtied her up with milk, and after practice that night we crashed at Earl Butter's, me in the closet, where I like to sleep for nostalgic reasons, and the c.l.k. in bed with Earl, who, it turns out, has more residual mothering instinct left in the back of his indoor-atrophied peanut brain than Weirdo the Cat. By morning he had taught our kitten how to lap up milk from a saucer.
I wish you could of seen the chicken farmer at the height of his or her popularity, sitting outside at Martha's on Cortland Street, waiting for Jen Hallflower. Almost everyone in the world wanted to talk to me and touch the c.l.k.
So, this is what it's like to be a woman, I thought.
Psych. Well, Jen showed up and of course fell in love, because it really was the cutest thing you ever saw, so there went my five minutes of popularity. Oh well. And even though I did have a very delicious wild blueberry crumb cake with my coffee, that's all I'm going to say about Martha's on Cortland Street.
The Hallflowers are a band, with Jen and her sister and mom, and they sing so pretty you don't know what to do with yourself. Kittenless, Earl Butter and me walked to the Castro and ate a proper Thai meal with the Cookie Diva, who's in town for the summer from North Carolina. Remember? She's the one who flew me a to-go order of pulled pork, hush puppies, and sweet tea, thereby becoming my Friend for Life and one of the first Cheap Eats Hall of Famers.
This was back when you could bring barbecue on an airplane. Remember?
Well, wait'll you hear what I ate at Thai Chef on 18th Street, just past Castro. Fried chicken fried rice! You read me rightly. Fried. Chicken. Fried. Rice ($6.95).
I had never heard of such a thing before, but maybe because I rarely if ever even look at the Fried Rice section of a menu. Does this happen? Does fried chicken fried rice occur in nature or just at my new favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Chef?
In any case I ordered it of course and it was a strip of juicy breaded boneless chicken pieces, like a Mohawk haircut over a huge head of fried rice, with just the egg and not much else. Simple and soulful.
Earl Butter and the Diva ordered their things, and everything was great, but my favorite memory is of the prawn salad ($7.95), which was minty and lemony and oniony and just delicious.