Panda Country Kitchen
CHEAP EATS There is a kind of chocolate bar with bacon in it, so you know. There. You can go back to sleep now. You can believe in God again, or call and cancel your next 40 years of therapy, or board that airplane, or fall in love. I can't do any of those things, yet, but you have my permission to go ahead without me. I'll catch up.
First I'm going to sit here and work on my sweet tooth, which I've been trying to work on my whole female life. Before when I passed on dessert, opting instead for another helping of greens, it seemed kind of, I don't know, cute almost or quirky. Judging from the looks on people's faces now, for a woman to not like chocolate ... that's unseemly, grotesque, and just wrong.
Now, y'all know how I love to reinforce stereotypes ...
Actually, I do. It's fun! I mean, ideally I'd be in on the ground floor of the stereotype, like the one where transgender chicken farmers make better lovers. (Neil Young has a song coming out about that.)
All kidding aside, did I ever tell you what I tell people who tell me that "women don't spit" or "ladies don't use that word" or "girls don't go around with a chicken in one hand and a hatchet in the other"? I tilt my head a little, bat my lashes, and go, "They do now, dear." Then I spit and say, "If you'll kindly excuse me, I have to go chop this fucker's head off."
But belligerence, like my pickup truck, only gets you so far. It doesn't get you back to sleep at 3:30 a.m., or into heaven or off the couch or onto airplanes and into hearts. So I am willing to learn to like chocolate, same as I had to teach myself to like applesauce: by putting bacon in it.
Only this time I can't take credit for the idea. That goes to Vosges Haut-Chocolat, purveyor of Mo's Bacon Bar. Sockywonk and/or our friend Funiamorari bought me one while they were in New York and gave it to me for my birthday. There's a picture on the box of a strip of bacon next to a square of chocolate, and a two-paragraph essay on the back by someone named Katrina, chronicling how she's been working on the bacon + chocolate equation since she was six.
No mention of how old she is now, but since her grammar is pretty good and her spelling impeccable, and since she seems to own a chocolate company with retail stores in Chicago and New York, if I had to guess I'd say she's at least seven.
My point being: come on! It took me one day to add up bacon + applesauce. Admittedly, it's easier math. But 365 times easier? Well, six-year-old girls do sometimes have a hard time staying focused, unlike 45-year-old chicken farmers.
Where was I?
Thank you, Sockywonk! Thank you, Funiamorari! This isn't the first time my wonderful, sisterly girlfriends have helped me become more stereotypical, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Which is a subtle and complicated joke, but would be less so if we could include a group picture here of my wonderful, sisterly girlfriends.
I can't express how much more confident I will feel now, on dates, when the waitperson asks if we would like dessert, and my date looks at me like, well? and instead of saying, "No, just another pork chop please," I can now say, "Oooh, do you have bacon chocolate bars?" Tilt of the head, bat of the lashes, and the deep-down knowledge that restaurants generally don't serve candy bars. But at least it will seem like I have a sweet tooth. "I really shouldn't," I will add, for effect, "but ... "
They're so good! Of course, of course they'd be even better if they were basically bacon with little flecks of milk chocolate in it, instead of the other way around. But my date doesn't need to know every single silly thought flitting through my sweet mind.
My new favorite restaurant is Panda Country Kitchen. It's also one of the windiest restaurants I've ever eaten at. Richmond District. I went there with the Maze on a foggy night, and we had tea-smoked duck and I forget what else. Oh, hot and sour soup, which was great, but it became cold and sour soup real fast. Turn the heat on!
PANDA COUNTRY KITCHEN
4737 Geary, SF
Lunch: 11 a.m.2:30 p.m., Mon.Fri.
Dinner: 4:30 p.m.10 p.m., Mon.Fri.
Continuous service: Sat.Sun., 11 a.m.10 p.m.
Beer & wine