when i arrived home from the market on saturday, with some chocolate mint from marin roots in one hand and susanna's sesame tres leches cake in the other....
the heart sister was already there....chilling out....laying down on my couchy thing in my living room reading iconoclast from my library. she greeted me with "how was it?" in addition to a few comments about my attire.
i was not wearing my usual attire.
for one thing, i was wearing pants. i never wear pants. i was wearing pants yesterday when i got home from the market because i was helping out in the hapa ramen stand. interestingly enough, the last time i wore pants (pajama pants at home don't count) was when i helped out the hapa ramen folks at off the grid. i learned a few things from that off the grid experience though. when helping out in a street food stand in san francisco.... there are few practical clothing-oriented things to consider:
- don't wear pants that fall off your ass, show your crack, or make you constantly need to pull them up.
- do wear pants that can move with your body but not yoga pants or sweat pants if you are FOH. please.
- have a few tops on hand for layering. you will be hot/cold at various times pending the amount of tickets that come in or the variations of weather that all san franciscans must prepare for. if handling food, ensure that the sleeves are 3/4 sleeves and/or can be easily folded and cuffed. helps you ensure that you don't get anything in the food.
- wear a scarf folded/knotted in such a way where the fringe/ends appear in the back. again, scarf dipping into food is not good. yet, scarf helps with adding warmth against chilly winds.
- do wear comfortable shoes with some tread. helps if they are already "distressed"...so when you are doing things like pouring gallons of pasta water through a strainer (to catch the noodles) before emptying the noodle-less water down the drain, it doesn't matter if it gets on your shoes. it just adds "character" to them.
- if you have ass length hair like mine, a very practical option is putting into a bun, and then wearing a comfy big knitted hat that covers my entire head. this way.....this keeps stray hairs in the hat.....and not anywhere else..like into the food that the cooks are putting out and the clients are picking up. it also provides an exceedingly more stylish alternative to wearing a hairnet or shower cap like thing.
- if you are being seen/working the FOH....make an effort to not look schlumpy because you are working with clients. making an effort really does help your interactions with clients.
i think the heart sister had a good laugh. we also talked about whether or not i would write about the experience. she did indicate the anonymity factor had the potential to be compromised if i did. i agreed with her. so as i type this....i'm actually not certain that i will be hitting the "publish post" button when it is complete.
this doesn't stop me from actually writing about the experience....just the potential of who will see the writing. as always, i write for me. i write for no one else. i write because i need to write. i write because it is an integral part of who i am.
so maybe others will see these words....and maybe not.
anyway, there are a few experiences of helping out on saturday that stand out in my mind.
- there was the chance to check in with mr. + mrs hapa ramen before they left.....a moment to show my support.
- the moment when i had no idea what to say to an infamous blogger/chef in the stand and what eventually came out was an equivalent of "please-get-out-of-my-way-because-you-are-blocking-the-only-way-i-can-give-mrs.hapa-ramen-her-coffee". oh well. not like my awkwardness is going to magically disappear.
- victor hanging on to the tent poles to help ensure that sudden unexpected gusts of burly wind wouldn't rip the top off the stand. it reminded me of my godson hanging on to a jungle gym.
- the sheer number of young gals that come to the stand to just take pictures. i'm pretty certain they wanted to take pictures of victor. he's photogenic.
- the sibling squabbling one moment..... then literally...nano-seconds later.... the hugs and love.
- laughter. hella lot of laughter. often instigated by the very charming and talented susanna.
- susanna trying to explain the origins of a jacket that had "caramelized" embroidered on it. oh...the possibilities are endless. chortle.
- chef spotting
- the melding of the delicious aromas of all of the food cooking from all of the nearby vendors
- the professionalism. the craft. the grace in movement. when you are in the stand...not only do you see the folks working in the stand you are in....but you also see your neighbors.
- the fact that i neglected to give one client their tres leches cake and three other clients their pickles. this still bothers me. a lot.
- the questions poised to me that made me want to cackle.....here are a couple....but i'm not going to say who asked them to protect the not so innocent....Q: "do you like white boys?" .......A: "i'm an equal opportunity dater."....Q: "you've got the girls out. are they frozen?".....A: snicker. "no." more snickering.
- the fresh hot soft chocolate chip cookies that sugar hustler of slanted door dropped off for trade....her personal recipe.
- the 8 year old boy who was waiting with his parents(?) at the hayes street grill stand and seemed to find me fascinating. when i caught him watching me, he waved, and i...completely out of character.... waved back. i guess i'm not heartless to 8 year old boys.
- seeing the adorable young hapa kids coming to the stand with their parents....that reminded me of the former plans and possibilities of a former life.
- the folks that never had hapa ramen before and how they came back to the stand to say how much they loved the ramen
- while we and everyone else were tearing down their stands at the end of the market day.....the nearby 4505 meats folks spontaneously started singing to the 4505 meats baby.....and the first word that came to mind when i saw and heard this was "community".
earlier in the week when i was having a texting conversation with mr. hapa ramen....he indicated that they were coming up on the 1 year anniversary of when they showed up at the coffee bar. i remember that day. i remember it because that was the day i moved to pac heights....and i actually showed up at the coffee bar....quite tired and hungry from the move....but when i saw the length of the line ....i decided to eat their food another time. hapa ramen's first night at the coffee bar became rather infamous for many reasons.
i think it is pretty safe for me to say that i've been observing hapa ramen for a year. it is also pretty safe for me to say that i've eaten quite a lot of their food. this has been well documented in the blog.
when i showed up that evening at the coffee bar....i never would have guessed that i would be helping them out in their stand a year later. yet, over the past year....i have observed them pursue their passion for food with a rather steely determination. i have enjoyed the evolution of their offerings (both ramen and non-ramen) in multiple settings. i have seen, as an outsider, how their presence within the industry has inspired, irked, and prodded others. over the past year, my respect for them has only increased....not only for the food that they put out...but also because of who they are as individual people. i am rather amazed and humbled that they have allowed me to have peeks into their lives and provided me with the opportunities to get to know them better.
given the strong driven personalities involved....i hope that they will take a moment to recognize just how far they have come in the past year. i know that they often think about the challenges and constantly strive to improve and grow....but i also hope that they take a moment to celebrate what they have accomplished.
because they have accomplished quite a bit.
it has been quite a year.
note: if you'd like to see the full slideshow of the above hapa ramen collage....visit this link: