By Dan Leone
THE WATCHED POT
boils. Steam streams and billows. The whistle whistles which is experienced by the watcher of the watched pot as a whistle. Condensation beads around the lidded rim, rivering down to sizzle against the burner. The air between the watched pot and the watcher of the pot turns to weather: cloudy and humid.
Now the watched pot shakes, wracked with boiling, and the noise, this whistle, screaming. Incredible, it's like nothing the watcher of the watched pot has ever heard, or ever will. One's brain is actually transformed. One's brain can for once be tactily experienced inside one's kitchen sink, like a sponge.
The screaming stops finally, too late for the cat, which has leapt to its death from a third-floor bedroom window. But the watcher of the still-watched pot is stronger than that. Silence, meanwhile, will need to be adjusted to, changing the brain again even as the watched pot itself shifts slightly in shade, color, gradually glowing.
It begins to tick. Which reminds one, after a time, of a watched clock, or watch. How time itself, like a crumpled newspaper, loses its linear ticktock nature now, as now in no particular order now it crackles and burns.
I keep a dream journal, you know. Have I ever confessed that yet? If not, I am now: yep, every morning the first thing I do, after letting out the chickens and making a cup of coffee, is I write down my dreams.
I write, "pork chops." Or: "Onions." Because these are the things I dream. Blackberries ... One night it will be pancakes, the next night Chinese food. You never know.
So the other night I dreamed bacon. It's more complicated than that: there was turkey bacon, and there was bacon bacon, and they were all mixed up, but I could tell them apart because the turkey bacon was perfectly flat and the bacon bacon was curly-edged.
What this tells us is that reality is realest when it curves and twists and defies straight-line logic. And that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
I'm not kidding, Tami woke up next to me and said, "I'm going to the store for stuff for pancakes. You want bacon?"
"Bacon bacon," I said, as if it were the first of the month on some other planet or calendar.
We had bacon for breakfast, with pancakes, for lunch with greens, and for dinner that night we were going to eat grilled cheese sandwiches at the Hemlock Tavern which isn't a restaurant of course and doesn't serve food normally, but during the Smallest Show in Town one Sunday a month, Jeff and Rachel Stevenson make grilled cheese sandwiches on a plug-in hot plate in the corner, as part of the entertainment ($1.50). Well, to make a silly story synchro-serendipitously significant, this Sunday, out of the blue, someone (Catherine Generocknroll, bless her bacony heart) contributed a whole Tupperware of bacon to add to the grilled cheese sandwiches. For free!
The moral of this restaurant review is that dreams do come true. Sometimes you make them come true, by going to the store before breakfast. And sometimes they just do, by coincidence. Or Catherine.
Anyway, the next day I was not in the mood for bacon. I had some anyway for lunch, with eggs, but then for dinner we went to a Chinese restaurant. Just to play it safe, because you seldom if ever see bacon on Chinese menus.
You see potstickers, fried calamari, and Mongolian beef. All of which we ordered at Canton Seafood Restaurant (for $5, $8.50, and $7.50, respectively), and none of which was any good. But I don't want to dwell on that because (a) what do I know? and (b) there are 111 things on the menu, not counting specials and dim sum.
Maybe we struck out, ordering. Strike 1: the sauce that came with the potstickers tasted like it had sweetened cleaning agents in it. Strike 2: the beef was so-so. Strike 3: I'm still chewing the fried calamari. I mean, I like good things to last, but this is getting ridiculous.
The guy one table over had a dish that looked real good. Like ox tails in a stewy clay pot which I didn't see anywhere on the menu. It was late and it was Monday. There were only two other tables taken in the place, and it's pretty big, so maybe the cooks lost their focus.
I did like the death row of fish tanks, but what's with all the double-digits
on the menu? Five bucks for potstickers? Too many eights and nines and
not enough sixes and sevens. We were fooled by the fluorescent lights
and fake flowers in the entranceway. Not that we thought they were real;
we thought it was going to be a cheap place.
Canton Seafood Restaurant. 655 Folsom (at Hawthorne), S.F.
(415) 495-3064. Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-9:30
p.m. Takeout available. Beer. American Express, MasterCard, Visa. Wheelchair
Email Dan Leone
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).