I can still taste all the flavours of San Francisco.
Frog Hollow’s peach pastry: never had nuthin’ like that before. A tiny cornmeal-banana-hazelnut-fig cake from Boulange (a fabulous organic patisserie and cafe in Hayes Valley, that I dearly wish had a Canadian franchise). The glass of wine I had at Firehouse in Livermore; we couldn’t pronounce the Italian name so we called it “Temper Tantrum”. Tiny exquisite cheese plates at Absinthe.
Shuna’s desserts (but more on that later). Tartine (more on that later, too).
And the lovely flavours of friends, old and new, their humour and their politics and their sexual proclivities, gathered around various restaurant and cafe tables.
After my deliciously flavourful afternoon with the Queer Baker, I headed back into the City to prepare for my reading at Femina Potens Gallery in The Castro. The Femme Author and I changed into the appropriate clothes whilst chatting about writing and sex, and I’m happy to say she may have outshone me in her luscious red boustiere. A drive through a rainy, misty night found us in a warm gallery packed with queers. A gaggle of very sweet women, who call themselves the Queer Food Collective, dished out soup, pate, and cocktails. Gay Ukrainian Writer Boy was there (I. Wouldn’t. Have. Missed. This. For. The. World. said he.) Writer Boy loved the whole scene,and lamented that there’s no equivalent cultural space for gay men in San Francisco.
That audience was a distinct pleasure to read to. They laughed and sighed in all the right places. They traveled with me to my Baba’s house in Edmonton and joined me at my Christmas Eve dinner in Toronto. They lived through all the breakups with wry, knowing smiles. You’ll do several ok readings to arrive at one like that, where everything: the food, the understanding, the ironic solidarity, is in place. You wrote the book for many people: your mom, your friends, all the foodies you’ve never met. But this audience, these queers: you wrote your heart out for them.
Seattle author Inge Muscio read after me. Eccentric and smart, she read passages from her books to do with food that were alternately moving and politically savvy. She cracked us all up with her account of being asked to read at the Starbuck’s Literary Stage at Bumbershoot, and the way she jammed her performance: a sacred circle of mugs from independent coffeshops around her as she read; free bags of coffee from said shops, thrown into the crowd, and a hilarious fantasy about being a dominatrix for the CEO of Starbuck’s.
The night ended at La Mediterannee, a modest Middle Eastern cafe at Noe and Castro, where I had a tangy, tender pomegranate chicken and treated my friends to their various vegan and vegetarian choices. Top, bottom, butch, femme: the sexiness of the night’s literary fare had us revealing this and that. It’s crazy I said. Everybody. Here. Is. Into. Kink. I said. All. Kink. All. The. Time. Gay Writer Boy just rolled his eyes melodramatically and helped himself to some of my food.