By Kevin Woo
I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I live in a city I absolutely adore. My home is San Francisco. Tony Bennett almost got it right. I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco, it’s still here.
There are many things to love about the Bay Area. There’s that famous bridge, the quaint cable cars, and hills that are so steep you have to park perpendicular to the curb or else your car will slide backwards.
We also have a food scene that rivals that of any city in the world. Chris Costentino is the chef owner of Incanto, and has been a pioneer in the local farm to fork movement. He believes in buying from local growers, and using every part of an animal. With Chris, nothing goes to waste.
For who aren’t familiar with Incanto, you might be a little shocked by the menu. For example, one appetizer is a boccalone salami platter of piglet, sow or boar. Booking a table for a big group of friends? How about a leg of beast or a whole pig dinner?
I have a confession. Of the thousands of restaurants in the area I’ve probably been to fewer than four-dozen and I’ve lived here for 20 years. You see, I prefer to spend my money on food that is tried and true. One of my favorite meals is the $1.50 hot dog and soft drink from Costco. I like to sit outside in the sun and eat. I am my own brand of foodie.
Inside there are at last two-dozen people who give away bite-size samples of things like Vienna sausage, crackers and chili.
I stay away from the freebies because the people handing them out wear a hair net, a facemask and rubber gloves. It looks as if they’re wearing a Hazmat suit, and I’m not sure I want to take food from someone who could also decontaminate the local sewage plant.
Although I stay away from the freebie food, I’m in the minority. People line up 5-10 deep to get a mouthful of something they’re unlikely to buy in the first place.
Well, most people are unlikely to buy. My dad is one of those people who will stand in line to taste this or that. My mom sends him on this errand so she can do the real shopping. He recently tasted some vegan noodles and thought they were pretty good so he set off to buy a box. All 10 pounds of it.
When I see one of the tasters with no customers near their stand I feel bad. I bet they feel like the kid who got picked last on the playground. To keep my guilt to a minimum I put my iPod earphones on and walk by as quickly as possible. I don’t want to know what they’re giving away. If there isn’t a crowd there must be a reason.
Given where I live and how the food scene continues to evolve I’ve wondered why I don’t make it a point to be more adventuresome. The answer is, I’m a creature of habit. I like what I like.
But the primary reason for not being more daring is because for $1.50 I know what I’m going to get. I get one of the best hot dogs around, sun that warms the soul and I’m never disappointed.
I can’t say that with a salami platter of piglet or leg of beast.