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cheap eats

by dan leon

Farmer Dan

THE CHICKENS HAVE started cranking out eggs. They lay them almost faster than I can eat them: sometimes as many as six a day, and on slow days four or five. This development couldn't come at a better time, me and Crawdad being so poor we've resorted to taking the hubcaps off of our cars and putting them back on and then taking them off again – if for no other reason than to have something concrete to impress our grandchildren with someday in case they ask us how poor we were.

So, let's see, Crawdad eating on average, well, no eggs a day, actually, having been down south visiting her fambly for more than a week, that means I've been putting away four or five or six eggs a day!

They're good. And they sure are cheap. In fact, I can't think of a cheaper eat than what I've been eating since my chickens started doing what chickens do best, according to vegetarians. Two times a day, at least, I've been having the 10 special: eggs and toast and home fries.

You're worried about my cholesterol. I'd be too, if I were you, but luckily I'm me, and I don't worry. I just don't. I'm not a type-A personality. I'm not even a type-B. I'm a Grade AA personality. On top of which there's my line of work, which keeps me fit and trim and healthy-minded. I've been up since five o'clock in the morning this morning, for example, laboring over that little "Grade AA" joke, literally sweating buckets, and it's not even 60 degrees in here! It was 6:30 by the time I'd wrangled the words into the above string of sentences, and then, after a brief but spirited end-zone dance, I needed a shower. By the end of which it was just starting to get light out, so I had to go liberate the chickens and see what they'd made me for breakfast.

Eggs!

Then I had to feed the sheep, and then I needed another shower. Farming is hard work too. (If you don't believe me, just ask a farmer.) But the payoff is tremendous: eggs and eggs and eggs and eggs.

Crawdad requested by phone that I at least leave out a yolk now and again. As a compromise, instead of eating the usual two-egg breakfast for lunch that day, I followed a recipe that called for only one egg, and a separated one at that. I made buttermilk waffles, with loads of butter, and sausage on the side.

And then the next day I was in the city all day, so I couldn't very well eat eggs at all. I took advantage of the opportunity to go out and eat some health food. I was going to go to Big Sherm's Sandwiches on Fillmore in the Lower (Upper?) Haight, because their business card has an avocado on it instead of a salami – and if that ain't a sure sign of health food, I don't know what is.

Well, they weren't open. Funny thing was, I'd called, and they'd said they were. Said they were open until six, every day. I got there around 5:30 (Sunday), and they were closed, the bastards, so just to show them I marched right over to the health-food restaurant across the street, this super-duper friendly and incredibly open little five-table hole-in-the-wall, and knocked over a bacon cheeseburger with fries ($6.29).

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. Bacon cheeseburgers aren't health food. Yeah, well there is where you are wrong, my friend, and why you do whatever you do for a living, while I write about restaurants and farming and general nutrition. The health-food restaurant of which I speak, the Metro Caffe, cuts its burgers off of those fancy-pants designer cows from Neiman Marcus, or whatever that ranch is where they don't use growth hormones or antibiotics or bad stuff like that. In other words: health food. Ask my cousin the Choo-Choo Train. He's a goddamn vegetarian, and even he will eat Neiman Marcus beef.

If you need further proof, consider this: it sort of sucked, sorry to say. Which is the number-one distinguishing feature of health food. Now, I don't know about their garden burgers or Philly cheesesteaks or Philly cheesechickens, but if you're worried about your weight or cholesterol or general well-being, go have a bacon cheeseburger at the Metro Caffe. It's this skinny little 1/3-pound patty (which seemed about 2/3 of the size of, say, Burger Joint's 1/3-pounder), overcooked even though I'd asked for it rare, and topped with, yes, bacon and cheese, but also: mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles (health food, health food, health food, health food, health food) – and of course mustard, and this is very, very important: hold the mayo, because that shit really is really, really bad for you. I'm serious.

Metro Caffe. 247 Fillmore (at Haight), S.F. (415) 621-9536. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Takeout available. Credit cards not accepted. Wheelchair accessible. Dan Leone is the author of Eat This, San Francisco (Sasquatch Books), a collection of Cheap Eats restaurant reviews, and The Meaning of Lunch (Mammoth Books).