Wednesday, June 29, 2005


The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to harbor the harborless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; to bury the dead.
Matt. 25; Tobias 12

This could be the restaurateur’s code….well, with some exceptions. Clearly, clothing the naked is NOT part of the hospitality code at this point in time. In fact, nakedness may be next to godliness in California. And Florida…..And wherever Hooters operates….

Yeah, well…..long weekend: Cachagua Fair (fish tacos for 500, donation); Produce growers 80th birthday party for 100+; Sunday Brunch; film shoot….breakfast, lunch in deep Big Sur, three days….(5am call in Big Sur daily); Monday Night dinner...overbooked at 65. Great.

And the landlord trips out (wrong mix of meds) and tries to close the bar at 11pm on Saturday Night….see previous post about ball bats. Angry confrontation at midnite does not bode well for that 5am call. AND the prick is there at 6am to continue the battle…..what kind of meds are these and where can I get some?

Sunday night: clean up from Saturday. The college kids are not into unloading, scrubbing and reloading. Must be a union deal. Oh, and prep for the 5am call. Oh, and prep for Monday Night dinner.

Ten pm Sunday rolls around, and I am packing the van for the 5am call. A pickup truck drives by, slams on the breaks, backs up and pulls into the lot. It is a camper guy…..long hair, intellectual, probably a musician….probably an instrument he made himself. “Is there any hot food?”

Me: “Well, check the bar. The pizza guy is playing cribbage with the bartender. I don’t know if his oven is off or not.” Clearly, the bar crew has passed from service to cribbage. Union thing. No hot food in Cachagua at 10pm on Sunday.

I see the poor guy climb back into his truck. “Hey, if you don’t mind micro-wave, there actually IS hot food.”

Guy: “Well, what about Carmel Valley or Carmel?” “At 10pm on a Sunday night? Remember, Carmel is: “Newly Wed, and Nearly Dead….I can hook you up with what WE eat in a pinch: Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie…..$2.50…”

The two basic values of food service are OTM, and OTF.....Other People's Money....and Other People's Food.....and if it winds up being Marie Callender....or Annie.....or Betty Crocker...or Aunt Jemima....bring it on: They are Other People, too. You can't ALWAYS be on task, and cook for yourself.

Anyway, the guy buys in….He has been camping in Miller Canyon for three days, missed the turn and walked halfway to Sikes…..had to schlepp back out without food or water. Marie C is FINE!

It turns out I have just pulled the Lundberg basmati rice out…..and there is a ton of split asparagus…..So I hook the guy up….Marie C., organic saffron basmati with currants, sunflower seeds, punkin seeds toasted in the new Morrocan 1000 year old tree oil….grilled organic asparagus from Central Avenue in King City….Give him the Sunday paper…..He gets an organic goat yoghurt……Real china and silver… him a glass of Gruet I have open anyway…….I figure $5.00. He leaves a buck tip…….Twenty percent!

Anywhere else in ……..well, no. Anywhere else in groovy-faux FoodAmerica, the staff says: “I am sorry, sir….we are closed.” And if they feed him, it is forty bucks…..

There was a time…..before neon and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Travellers were at serious risk. The only way humankind made it through the 40,000 years of intinerancy that precedes the condo and HMO era…..The rule was: if you are traveling and see a fire, you can stop there, and they will feed you. This basic assumption has made all commerce possible. Donald Trump take note.

On this simple, fragile strand I base my weekend: no more than four hours of sleep possible till Thursday. New 8 mpg van….$100 in gas at least…..twelve meals spread over hundreds of miles of coast so rugged it was unsettled for 40,000 years…..

But….the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy: First is feed the hungry. Feeding the hiker gave me enough energy and mitzvah to get through the week……..I may be channelling some guy in Nottingham Forest in 700 AD.

It is possible that this cooking thing is genetic…and inescapable.

That is my story…..and I am sticking to it.


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