CHEAP EATS At first we called her Papa, and then Center. Not only was she the central figure of a particular circle of friends, she was also the center on our football team. Then she and our quarterback split up, which happens — only afterwards it was too hard for poor Center to have her ex's hands all up in her stuff, saying "down" and "set" and so forth (I am speaking metaphorically) so she quit the team, and since then I don't see her as much.
Which sucks, cause I really, really like her.
And now I am going to change her name to Sinker because she doesn't. She swims. But we'll call her Sinker in the same spirit in which really gigantic people are sometimes called Tiny. Against all odds and crazy currents, Sinker swims. She swam Alcatraz. Next, she told me over lunch at My Father's Kitchen, she swims from bridge to bridge.
That's six miles! In the bay, which is (as I understand it) not no swimming pool.
I am thinking of taking up water polo. Does anybody know how to play water polo? I don't, but if I get to choose sides, my first two picks will be Sal the Pork Chop and Sinker. My two badest-ass bay-swimming buds.
Anyway, after dating herself (as she puts it) for the past year-plus, Sinker has started to step outside of that relationship. You can see this just from looking at her. She's glowing a slightly brighter shade of "gettin' some" these days.
She showed me a picture of her lucky co-getter, who was for sure a babe, but I was more interested in the dating herself thread.
"So, did you bring yourself flowers?" I said. "Did you eat alone in nice places on purpose?" I wanted to ask a million other questions: Where did they meet? What did her mother think of her? Did she ever go out on double-dates with other people who were dating themselves, and then swap partners?
But before I could ask most of these stupid questions, she set me straight: This was more just a way of looking at things. Taking care of business, getting good with yourself, which everyone has to do at some point if not many many points in life, turning self-hatred into self . . . well, likedred, in my case.
What I love is pho.
So, yeah, My Father's Kitchen. Vietnamese comfort food. It's a tight, warm, friendly li'l place on Divis near Sutter, in the Medical District — where I have to go for physical therapy for my knee, or in this case a mammogram. Before and after which, comfort is a pretty good idea. Right?
There are only twelve things on the menu, and three of those are appetizers. I got pho, and Sinker got imperial rolls with rice noodles. How she stayed happy, I don't know. For 12 clams, it was just imperial rolls with a plop of plain vermicelli next to a pile of lettuce and mint. No grilled pork. No chicken.
And she needed comfort food, too, having just had a weird time with a second-string gynecologist.
They did look good, though, those imperial rolls. Just a little bit paler than golden, but still crispy. And I think Sinker said, in fact, that they were great. But I forgot to get me a taste.
I was a little overly focussed on pho.
To warn you, my fellow soup-dwellers: if you plan to drown any medical sorrows (or brace yourself for getting your boobs squished) in a giant bowl of pho, this ain't that. It's northern Vietnamese style, meaning small means small.
So get the large.
Also: The rice noodles are wide 'uns. BYO basil and bean sprouts, if you are a devotee of the southern-Vietnam style pho, which is apparently what we are accustomed to here in this here country.
The broth was subtle but delicious, once I tacked on a couple jalapeno slices. And no, I didn't mind the absence of everything else. It was the not-at-all-rare rare beef — and not a lot of it, at that — that discomforted me.
But not as much as what was to come, damn the heavy-handedly careless crank.