Tacos and Gimlets

Treating the author of Julie & Julia to a little taste of San Francisco

When the tall and beautiful Julie Powell comes to town (for events in Santa Rosa and Corte Madera, oddly skipping S.F.), I want to wine and dine her, shower her with truffles and bone marrow, and take her to a musical based on Buffy, but settle for an hour between other engagements. She's fresh off the plane from a big reading in New York the night before, worried about her husband, Eric, who's hung over from the same festivities back at home, and wins my heart immediately as we stroll through the Ferry Building Marketplace, one-stop shopping for the kind of luxury items she subwayed all over New York searching out. I say, "What would you like to eat? Caviar? Oysters? Mexican food?" and she replies, "Mexican." We go to Mijita Cocina Mexicana, which I wish had brain tacos in homage to Julie's own struggles with the organ, and have flawless, juicy, porky carnitas and al pastor tacos. I would have liked to have taken her to one of the El Tonayense taco trucks, where the 11 different fillings include sesos (brains) as well as flawless, juicy carnitas (oddly translated as "brief pork"), al pastor, cabeza (head, which is mostly beef cheeks, tasting like the world's best pot roast), lengua (garlicky tongue, tasting like it came from my grandma's kitchen), and tripitas (not tripe but chunks of grilled intestine, chewy and strong). I figure Julie, now an aspiring butcher (and, perhaps, chronicler of adventures in meat) would be happy there. At $1.50 each, El Tonayense's tacos are a third the price of Mijita's excellent ones.

The hour becomes two. We linger over vodka gimlets, described in Julie & Julia with religious fervor ("with an almost-not-there shade of chartreuse lingering in their slightly oily depths"), at MarketBar; she says she prefers Rose's Lime Juice to the freshly squeezed juice used here, but it'll do, it'll do. And I tell her that I cried again when I read in the book's epilogue what she wrote about Julia Child when Child died, which brought Powell back to her blog almost exactly two years after she started it, for one final entry: "I have no claim over the woman at all, unless it's the claim one who has nearly drowned has over the person who pulled her out of the ocean."

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