Written by: Lisa Gordon
I love food. Always have, always will. But after nearly 8 years of living in San Francisco, the inevitable has happened.
I’m a food snob.
Who’s with me?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not out of control. I won’t refuse food that’s provided for me; I appreciate food and the fact that I have easy access to it, and healthy food at that. I respect what it takes to grow and make good food (because heaven knows I certainly can’t do it myself!). But I began noticing small changes in my eating habits and preferences, and I hate to say it, but San Francisco is to blame. (Not that I’m complaining.)
It all started a few years ago. I make Hannukah latkes for my family every year, a process that involves about 12 large potatoes, a food processer, and lots of mess. That year, my sweet mom offered to do the grocery shopping for me, and said that ‘in order to make things easier’ she’d buy frozen. shredded. potatoes.
I gasped. “You can’t do that!” I cried. “That’s gross! That’s not even real food!”
Her silence on the line was all it took for me to take a deep breath, regain my sense of self, and apologize.
But I still asked her to buy regular potatoes.
(It must be said that I recognize, as you probably do too, that there are many bigger ‘food’ issues at play here—it’s hard to live in San Francisco and ignore them—only one of which is that frozen/processed/packaged foods are arguably worse for you anyway. While I’d agree that that’s true, my mother doesn’t think about it like that, nor do millions of other Americans, for reasons too plenty and improper to state here.)
Anyway, back to me being rude to my mom about food (and I should caviat this by saying that my mom is actually a phenomenal cook). It wasn’t only the potatoes—I also told her she shouldn’t buy packaged hard boiled eggs, commented on her brand of deli meat, convinced her to stop using Splenda, recommended she switch the cheddar on her cheese plate to manchego… the list goes on. Luckily, she wasn’t too offended and listened.
All along (pre-San Francisco, if you will), I’d never thought much about what kind of food I was eating, the quality, where it came from, how it was made, etc. I thought, chicken was just chicken, right? Vegetables were vegetables; butter was butter.
Ha! Good grief was I wrong.
Nowadays, I have a hard time ordering protein from places I don’t trust. Now, I think back to those years when I ate baby carrots and thought it was the same thing as just eating any old vegetable. Now, I make my own salad dressing. Now, I could whine about how that there’s no good coffee anywhere outside of San Francisco.
Now, I want avocado on everything and honey made at the farm a few miles away and oysters from Drakes Bay and I won’t eat cheese unless it’s from Cowgirl Creamery or ice cream unless it’s from Mitchells or vegetables unless they’re from a wooden box on a sunny day at the farmer’s market and a smiling person with dirt still on their hands gave it to me.
Okay, a little snark never hurt anyone. But everything I just described above is very possible, no? (And don’t even get me started on the restaurants. That’s what CynEats is for 🙂 )
Now, when I’m back home on the East Coast—or basically anywhere else—I’m constantly comparing the quality of the food to what I can find in San Francisco. And to be honest, it’s not a position I want to be in. I don’t like knowing that leaving San Francisco for good means I’m giving up what I’ve become accustomed to: consistent access to excellent food. I don’t like knowing that living anywhere else means I may not appreciate food as often as I used to, in the same way that I used to.
I’m scared it might mean that food in San Francisco has ruined me for life.
How’s that for drama? Okay, I’ll back that up. Instead, I’ll choose to think of it this way: in gratitude. For not only improving my standards of quality (is there such a thing as the ‘San Francisco 15’? There should be?!), but for teaching me to appreciate how lucky I’ve been to enjoy it. For teaching me how to appreciate every aspect of the food chain: from the ground, to the market, to the plate, and every person involved in between. For making me seek out farmers’ markets, farm stands, and gardens, just as much as the new best chef in town. And hell, I’ll just say it – for making me happy. Plain and simple.
For more stories from Lisa, visit her website here!