Quin's Progress


Anyone For Some Cuttlefish Jerky?

When you are enjoying a nice, frosty brew with your friends after a long day, or while watching the game, don’t you just want to gnaw on some desiccated mollusk flesh dipped in mayonnaise?  You do if you’re in Korea!


Freshly Caught

In the States, the only consumers of cuttlefish may be parakeets (you know, the cuttlebone you’re supposed to put in their cages for them to nibble and rub their beaks on), but all over East Asia, cuttlefish is a very popular snack food for humans.

Cuttlefish, drying on the line

Cuttlefish, drying on the line

Despite the name, cuttlefish are actually mollusks, in the same class of marine Cephalopoda as squid and octopi.

The most popular way to eat it in Korea is dried, like jerky, often together with peanuts.  It’s especially popular as an accompaniment to drinking beer or soju.

At the movies

At the movies (with peanuts)

cuttle with peanuts

Snack pack with peanuts

You see it everywhere:  at street vendors’ carts, in convenience stores next to the chips, even at the concession stand at the movies.

The seasides are dotted with drying racks draped with the corpses of cuttlefish, and the markets are cluttered with stalls of vendors selling stacks of the flat, pressed product.

Vendor drying cuttlefish on the roof of his shop

Vendor drying cuttlefish on the roof of his shop

Cuttlefish in the market

Cuttlefish in the market

The way you eat it–at least, the way I was shown–is, if you can, you toast the dried cuttlefish over a flame and char it a little bit.  Not very much, just enough to singe it slightly and give it a smoky note.  (If you don’t have access to a flame to toast it, just skip this step.)

Flame-toasted cuttlefish with mayo and chili sauce

Flame-toasted cuttlefish with mayo and chili sauce

Then, you tear off thin shreds of the meat, like little ribbons, and dip it in mayonnaise first, then a chili sauce, and pop it in your mouth!  Mmmmm-mmm!

Tentacle Jerky

Fish and Tentacle Jerky Selection

Cuttlefish isn’t the only marine animal that people like to eat dried in this fashion.  For example, dried octopus tentacles are also to be had in the markets, as are all manner of dried, pressed fish.  But, cuttlefish is, by far, the most popular to munch on while you’re getting your buzz on with some good beer or soju.

Those of us with Western palates will probably jump to a conclusion about why it’s popular to eat while drinking; our tastebuds can have beer-goggles, too, after all!  But, I was sober as a judge when I had it, and I enjoyed it.  I thought it was savory and delicious, if a bit…cuttlefishy.  But, then again, dip anything in enough mayonnaise and chili sauce and I’ll eat it and think it’s good.

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Equal Time For Dog Lovers…Sort Of

"Godabang" is a cat café chain

“Godabang” is a cat café chain

A couple weeks ago, I posted about a wonderful kitty café that I happened upon in Gyeongju, South Korea, where you can enjoy the fuzzy affections of a bevy of feline gigolos with your coffee.  I have found a few more since then; they are apparently very popular with city dwellers who can’t have pets in their homes.  There are even cat café chains, with locations all over.  But, not everyone loves the kittenzes as much as I do.  What about them?  Well, fear not, there are puppy cafés, too.

I found one in the Jangsan neighborhood of Haeundae Beach, in Busan.  I want to call it a Puppy Pub, or a Dawg Dive, but the establishment–on the second floor, over a pet store–only served foo-foo coffees and teas.  I don’t know why, but it seems to me that a venue catering to dog people should have a liquor license.  Beer and wine, at least.  Maybe it’s just me.  Anyway, no booze at this Canine Café.

The Canine Café. See the glass partition?

The Canine Café.
See the glass partition?

Right off the bat, I noticed a fundamental difference between this outfit and the cat cafés: the dogs are in a pen, separate from the café area.  It’s right next to it, but it’s divided by a low, transparent wall so the hounds can’t get to the people at the tables.  The front foyer gate opens into the puppy playpen, and that is where the coffee counter is, but the seating area is behind glass.  I didn’t like that.  I wanted to drink my coffee while I played with the pups.  But, then I learned why.  They pee.  They pee often.  They pee a lot.  Oh, so much pee….

cockerThere was an attendant who ran around behind them and cleaned it up as close to immediately as one could expect, so it didn’t really smell in there, but still, not appropriate for a food service area.  Cats prefer to retire to the privacy of a litter box to tinkle, so the cat café people can just put a little cat flap in the door to the litter box room, and trust the pusses to honor the system.  Dogs, not so much.  Not a bashful bladder in the group.  So, okay, I get it. They have to separate the room.

"I don't see you"

“I don’t see you”

The eight or nine pooches in the play area were all immaculately groomed, healthy-looking, and pretty well-behaved, but for the recidivist peeing (which, I guess, we can’t really blame on them.  It’s not like there was a dog door to a back yard where they could go outside).  But, there was something odd about them.  It took me a while to figure it out.  Then, it hit me.  They were ignoring me.

"Got any food?  No?  Okay, bye."

“Got any food? No? Okay, bye.”

Basically, except for one little cocoa-colored poodle who managed to feign interest in me for the minute or so it took to ascertain whether I had any food to give him, none of these dogs paid any attention to me at all.

"Is someone better coming?"

“Is someone better coming?”

They pretty much sat with their backs to me, or stood at the gate, waiting for someone better to come along (translation: someone with food).  I know what you’re thinking:  just give them some treats, and they’re yours.  Well, I thought of that, but the place specifically forbids feeding the dogs.  I can see why they wouldn’t allow people to bring their own food to give them; they couldn’t control the safety of what the dogs eat that way.  But, if they’re going to have such stuck up pups, they really should make some kind of treats/bribes available for purchase.  Baby carrots, or something healthy, so they don’t founder.  I dunno.  Something.

saint bernieIt was the darndest thing.  I can’t remember the last time I was around a dog that didn’t make a total nuisance of itself, jumping on me, licking my hands, staring intently at me while I’m reading or watching tv, or trying to stick its snout in my crotch.  They normally exhibit an extravagant enthusiasm level at my arrival that one just can’t expect from a cat.  I was at a total loss.  (Maybe they heard what I said about them being the easy girls of the animal high school….Which one of you blabbed?)

I sat there, trying in vain to entice a gorgeous, snow white Akita to come to me, my lame tongue clicking noises impotent against her indifference.  I recalled the cat café, and how surprised I had been at how attentive and affectionate all the kitties were with me at first glance.  Obsequious, almost.  Where the heck had I landed that cats are the attention-seeking trollops, and dogs are haughty and aloof?  I have really fallen down the rabbit hole!  Ooh…rabbits.  Now, there’s a great idea for a café!  A bunny bar!  Who’s in?


Pussy Galore

[Don’t worry, guys, I’m not writing about girl parts again.  You can safely read on.]

IMG_5452I was walking down a dubious looking street in Gyeongju today, when I happened upon this sign.  I still can’t read Korean–it all looks like spiders on ice skates and Spaghetti O’s to me–but those kitty cartoons and the prices caught my attention.  A lot of the restaurants here use signs like this to promote their menu items, with cutesy cartoons of the animals whose meat they serve, instead of pictures of the dishes.  And I know there are some places in Korea that serve a dog meat stew, so, my heart verily stopped at the possibility that this sign was for a restaurant serving kitty cat fricassee.

IMG_5419Out of morbid curiosity, I peeked through the doorway to see if I could get confirmation one way or the other, and I saw this pink plaque on the stairway for “Cat Cafe Cat Town” on the second floor.  Hmm…the name doesn’t reveal enough.  The beef restaurant across the street was called “Beef House Korean Beef Restaurant,” so this could totally still be a cat restaurant.  Just to make sure, I went up the stairs, and opened the door to find….

Cat Café!

Cat Café!

P1040348An actual cat café!  As in, a café where you have your coffee with a bunch of cats.  Kitties everywhere!  Hundreds of them!  Well, okay, not hundreds, but at least 30.

P1040326Abyssinians, Bengals, Persians, Siamese, Russian Blues, they had them all.  Fat kitties, svelte kitties, boy kitties, girl kitties, longhaired kitties, short haired kitties, kitties, kitties, kitties of every kind!

Hello Kitty!

These were some of the sweetest, most affectionate kitties I’ve ever encountered, too.  I am a cat person, so I know the value of kitty love.  Cats don’t hand it out indiscriminately, like dogs do.  Dogs are very emotionally slutty, but cats–especially well-fed cats, like these–don’t generally bestow their purry gifts on just anyone.  [Now, don’t be sending me hate mail, dog people.  I love dogs, too.  I just calls it like I sees it, and you know I’m right–dogs are the easy girls of the animal high school.  Nothing wrong with that.]

P1040345P1040338But these babies were so friendly and curious, they just hopped up next to me and started going through my purse as soon as I came in and sat down.  Everyone had to have a sniff through my bag, and then sit in it for a while.


Getting some good kitty love

Getting some good kitty love

This little Abyssinian guy was so pushy, he crawled up my arm, burrowed through my hair, and settled in on my shoulder to purr in my ear.  Oh, that is my favorite sound in the whole world!  That is the sound of contentment, right there.  I was in heaven.

P1040318This sweet little Russian Blue kitty threw himself into my arms and snuggled in with his belly up to be rubbed.  There was a Himalayan girl kitty on my lap, and the Abyssinian on my shoulder…I was in the middle of a kitty cat three-way love fest, and I couldn’t have been happier.


“You fool,” she seems to be saying.

That’s when it hit me.  They were hustling me, those kitties were.  I was in a kitty cat hostess bar!  A feline “room salon,” as it were.  It was their job to act all cute, and purr and rub on me, and tease me with the promise of their rare kitty love, just to get me to stay longer and order more coffee at 7,000 Won a pop (that’s roughly $7 USD).  Those wiley minxes.  Well…I’ll still take it.  I do have my needs, after all.


It’s A Small World, Bilches, And I’m Off To See It!

In anticipation of my world tour departure, I wanted to get you a little something special to remember me by; something that you could think of once in a while, and maybe laugh a quiet little private laugh to yourself that would be too much trouble to explain to anyone who asked what was so funny.  So, I went to peruse the wide and varied options on Fiverr.

Do you know about Fiverr?  Fiverr is an online marketplace, where folks all over the world offer up all manner of goods or services for the whopping asking price of $5.  Everything on Fiverr is five dollars—no more, no less.  Hence the name.  Most of it is kind of stupid, but some of it is good, and some of it is just plain hilarious.  People offering serious things, like business plans, budgets, ad jingles, logo designs, weight loss menus or training plans, are clearly doing it as a loss leader, hoping that future business worth more than five bucks will follow.  Others are indulging hobbies, such as writing things on a piece of rice, or spelling out messages on a Scrabble board in stop-motion film.  Still others are just wackadoolery.  Those are my favorite.  I had an ad up on Fiverr for a while, offering to go hug the elderly relative of your choice, within 25 miles of San Francisco, for $5.  Nice, right?  Your Aunt Millicent is in a home in Colma, and you can’t get there for her 93rd birthday?  Fiverr to the rescue.  Half a sawbuck through Paypal, and Miz Quin is on her way to deliver the big, warm, squishy hug you can’t.  I even offered a “fragrance free” option, where I would promise not to wear perfume or the fruity, girly lotions I am so fond of, if there were scent-sitivities to be considered.  But, it proved impractical, because even though I was clear about the “elderly” part in the ad, apparently, that’s not as unambiguous as I had thought, and I kept getting requests from young guys trying to send me to hug their “cousins” or “uncles,” and Fernando was categorically unwilling to go along and be my bodyguard on hug patrol, so, yeah….  My Fiverr career died before it ever got off the ground, and everyone’s Bay Area old folks are now going unhugged, all because of some horny teenagers with nothing better to do than cruise Fiverr.  But I digress.  Back to your gift.

So, via Fiverr, I found this lovely gentleman– who calls himself “Crazzy Man”–operating in a small village somewhere in India, who, for the aforementioned five dollars, will put any message you want on a sign, and videotape himself dancing around with it in what looks like a faux grass or banana leaf skirt.  “Ooh, perfect,” I thought.  So, I sent him a request for such a video, and five dollars, and asked that the sign read “Quin says:  Ciao, Bitches!”  Saucy, but fun.  Just what I wanted.  Crazzy Man turned the order around fast; a day later, the following video was in my email inbox:

Seee-yowwww, Beeches!!  Awesome!  He really put his heart into that performance!  But, he left off the “Quin says” part, and I know there are a few of you, who shall remain nameless, who wouldn’t believe that I hadn’t just swiped this off YouTube from someone else and claimed to have commissioned it myself.  And I want the credit, fair and square.  So, I wrote to Crazzy, and said how much I loved the video, and it was so wonderful, and thanks so much, but please, could he do it again, and put “Quin says” on the sign.  Of course, I said I would pay another five dollars, no problem.  I said he could even write it on the other side of the same paper, and just flip it around.  “Okay,” says Crazzy, “no problem.”  Then, the next day, this video comes:

Well…not quite.  I mean, I love that the whole village is getting involved in my project, and the ladies are sure lovely, but now I have one video with the girls and the “Quin Says” sign, and another with Crazzy himself and the “Ciao, Bitches!” sign, and that doesn’t really solve my problem.  So, I wrote him back, thanked him profusely again, extolled the beauty of the women in the new video, praised their dancing and the fantastic sign, and then asked him to, pretty please, do it again—for another five dollars, of course—with BOTH signs.  I figured, since they had both signs made now, the third time would be the charm.  I can just picture them all sitting there in their village, saying “What does she want now, and why does she keep changing it?”  and “who else can we get in on the performance?”  But, to me, he just said okay, sure.  And then this video showed up a short time later:

So close!  Well, not exactly.  But, look how much work they put into this, with their little choreographed dance routine and everything.  How sweet are they?  Still, I actually wanted Mr. Crazzy rockin’ out in his green manskirt, and I don’t know what “Bilches” are, but they sound painful and possibly contagious.  So, once again, I wrote back to Team Crazzy and gushed about how fabulous the video was, and how graceful the dancing was, and thanked them to the heavens for their helpfulness, etc., and then pointed out that “Bitches” was, unfortunately, spelled wrong, and would he please, with sugar on top, do it again, himself this time, and be careful to spell it right—for another $5, it goes without saying.  “Okay,” he said, still ever-helpful, but with somewhat less alacrity than before.  I could tell he was kinda over my shit by now.  Still, five more bucks is five more bucks, and that goes a lot farther in India than it does here, so a couple days later, Crazzy sends me this video:

Oh, sweet JesusMaryAndJoseph!  “Bictches?  Is he messing with me now?!”  No, I don’t think he was, actually.  I think they were probably just so careful to copy the letters just so this time after the preceding error, and they aren’t used to a Romanized alphabet, and to them, it probably looks exactly like what I wrote.  I laughed so hard when I opened this video that I almost fell off the couch, and my houseguest got out of bed and came out to the living room to see what was the matter.  Doesn’t it look like how you would spell that percussion flourish in the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off theme music?  You know, it goes:  “Ohhhhh yeahhhhhh, donk-donk, Bictchaaaahs.”  Okay, maybe not.  Anyway, this is the best I could do.  I just didn’t have the heart to go back and ask Crazzy Man and the Village People to do yet a fifth video dedicated to my attempt at a sassy sendoff message.

This is Woobie Frog

This is Woobie Frog

So, yeah, ciao, bilches bictches gentle friends!  As I write this, I am in seat 8B of United Airlines flight 893, one-way from San Francisco to Seoul, with my Woobie Frog tucked ever so supportively behind my neck.  I can hardly believe it.  bagsNot only has Day 1 of my grand adventure arrived, at last, but all my worldly belongings now fit into these three bags.  What have I done?  There are only four pairs of shoes in there, and only one of those pairs has high heels, and they aren’t even really all that high.  Breathe…breathe…okay, it’s fine.  Something had to go to make room for a year’s supply of contact lenses and thyroid pills.  I thought I was pretty Spartan in my packing, but one thing I’ve learned, is that all those cute miniature, travel sized gadgets and bottles of goop, when thrown together in one bag, are really frickin’ heavy.

I call this bag The Samurai

I call this bag The Samurai

I’m going to have to weed out some of the stuff I’ve packed here, or I’m going to fracture my Groove Thang schlepping all this crap around.  Also, it just dawned on me that I’m probably not going anywhere that doesn’t have shampoo and toothpaste already, and if I do, we’ll all have greasy hair and halitosis together, so….I don’t know what I was thinking.  I’m sure many adjustments will be made along the way as I figure things out.  Cross your fingers for me.

Those are my toes

Those are my toes

Speaking of sendoff messages, yesterday, I was walking down the street, preoccupied, running some last minute errands, trying to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything important, and I literally ran across this bit of street art on the sidewalk.  So apropos, it’s hard not to believe it was put there just for me, personally.  Let’s just say that it was.  Adios to you too, San Francisco.  I am taking my heart with me, but I’ll leave my pancreas or my spleen with you, just for safekeeping. That doesn’t make for nearly as romantic a song, though.  Perhaps an interpretive dance would be more fitting.  Maybe we can get Crazzy Man and his village to work on it for us.  For another five bucks, of course.


Apparently, I’ve Been Dead For About A Week Now

Last Tuesday, I had an appointment downtown, and as usual, I was running a bit late.  As I inwardly berated myself for, yet again, not allowing for the typical traffic congestion and search for parking in my calculation of how long I needed to get somewhere, I spied a car leaving a plum parking spot right in front of the door of the building I was going to.  Score!  Saved from tardiness!  I snagged the spot, and didn’t think much of it beyond that.

Then, it happened again the next day when I went to the dentist.  Parking right in front of the front door.  Hmm.  “My parking karma is pretty good at the moment, I guess,” is all I thought.  But, when it happened several more times after that, I got suspicious.  This just does not happen in San Francisco.  Anywhere in the Bay Area, really, but especially not San Francisco.  And we’re not talking out in the outer Avenues by the beach.  No, this was in SoMa, the Castro, the Mission, Valencia Corridor….and three times in a row in North Beach.  Places where there’s never any parking.  San Francisco locals, back me up here.  This was unprecedented and peculiar.

I got to thinking…did I die, and heaven is just San Francisco with easy parking?  Am I dead, and no one told me?  I threw this question out to my Facebook friends, and my friend Juan offered the most practical solution to the puzzle:  “go see if the line outside Tacolicious still goes around the block, and then go see if it takes 20 minutes or more to get a coffee at Ritual.  If you can say yes to either of these things, you’re still among us.”  Anyone who lives in SF can testify, the purgatory of waiting at those places is just an accepted part of our earthly reality.  So, I conducted Juan’s experiment, and here’s what happened:



Tacolicious:  No line at all.  Walked right in, no waiting.  AND, I got a parking spot right out front.  Another one.

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual Coffee Roasters

Ritual:  Another parking spot right in front, no line, and got my latte and a pastry in four minutes flat.

To top it off, last night, at just before 8 p.m. on a Friday night, walked in and immediately got a table at Mandalay–another spot where a wriggling throng of people waiting to get in is ever-present, especially on a Friday night.  Oh, and although the parking spot wasn’t right in front of the door that time, it was less than half a block away.  That’s still pretty heavenly by SF standards.

So, yeah.  I’m clearly deceased.  And so far, I have to say, I’m rather enjoying death.

Anyway, this all got me to thinking about a conversation Fernando and I had while we were in Hawai’i last October.  We were drinking Mai Tais on the terrace of this place across from the garden in front of the zoo at the ass end of Waikiki Beach.  Across the street in the park, some laborers were throwing big, dead palm tree branches into a chipper, which was forcefully blasting the ground palm branch pulp into the back of a garbage truck for disposal.

Fernando fantasizing about putting my corpse into a chipper

Fernando fantasizing about putting my corpse into a chipper

Fernando watched them quietly, sipped his drink, and then said quite matter of factly: “When you die, I’m going to put your body into one of those things.”  The elderly couple sitting close enough to us to hear this pronouncement gasped in horror, but I laughed.  By now, I’m used to Fernando’s humor, as well as the fact that he starts fantasizing about my demise after we’ve been together for more than 24 uninterrupted hours.  I just told him to make sure and point the chipper spout out to sea, and blast me into the ocean, instead of into a garbage truck, and that would be fine with me.  (This conversation, aided by the additional ensuing Mai Tais, also lead to me ask him how he would kill me if he was ever going to, to which he replied without hesitation, in that picante Peruvian accent of his:  “Don’t be ridiculous, I would never kill you….I would hire someone.”  I still can’t decide if that’s kind of sweet or unforgivably impersonal.)  But, now that it seems I might actually be potentially dead, I realize I don’t really want to be put through a chipper.

Survivor Season 24 stole my coconut slingshot idea

Survivor Season 24 stole my coconut slingshot idea

Several years ago, some friends took me out to celebrate my birthday, and for some reason, we all ended up planning our fantasy funerals over dinner.  It wasn’t as sad and bleak as it sounds, there were margaritas and tequila shots involved.  So, my fantasy funeral involves having my cremated ashes placed into hollowed out coconuts, and then all my friends and family will gather on the Golden Gate Bridge, launch the ash-filled coconuts into the air over the water with big sling shots, and then skeet shoot them, so that the coconuts explode and my ashes sprinkle over the San Francisco Bay.  Come on, you’d go to that funeral, right?  I thought so.  So, that’s my fantasy; my Plan A, if you will.  But, this being San Francisco, I can imagine the permits necessary for that kind of send off might be prohibitive, so I figured I’d better come up with a more realistic Plan B.  I did some research, and there are some super interesting options, at least, for those of us who wish to be cremated:

  • The Neptune Society is building a huge, beautiful eco-reef off the coast of Florida, into which you can have your “cremains” placed, with a marker, and let your family scuba down to visit you.  I like this idea.  I love to dive, plus I think Dale would be right at home there.  A company called Eternal Reefs has also established several ocean reefs, where you can be part of the circle of marine life, but they aren’t as pretty and cinematic as the Neptune Society’s:
  • h001You can have yourself turned into an hourglass:  http://www.inthelighturns.com/hourglass-urns.html.  This seems appropriate for board game enthusiasts, or Days of Our Lives fans.  I would worry that one of my knuckle bones wouldn’t get fully ashified, though, and would get stuck in the neck of the hourglass.  So, not for me.
  • You can be shot out into space and placed in orbit on a satellite:  http://www.memorialspaceflights.com/.  Surprisingly cost effective, actually.  If they throw in a looped soundtrack to Major Tom, I’d seriously consider it.
  • You can have your ashes compressed until they form diamonds, and make jewelry out of them:  http://www.lifegem.com/.  Well…not actual diamonds, but “memorial gems.”  It’s a nice idea, but if you think about it, is it really a good idea to have a necklace that is that important?  What if you lost it?  Plus, I don’t want to end up at the bottom of someone’s jewelry box, or bedazzling someone’s nose ring.  And knowing my friends, someone would turn me into a special occasion cock ring.  Actually, that would be funny.
  • You can have your ashes made into a personalized frisbee:  http://www.discgolf.com/disc-golf-discs/steady-ed-memorial-discs/.  I totally don’t get this one.  It seems to me, if you’re going to have Grandpa made into a frisbee, they could make some nicer ones.  These look like the kind they give away for free at conventions.
  • 01You can be blown into a piece of “art glass”:  http://www.memoryglass.com/.  Yeah.  You know how every group of friends has that one person who takes up “jewelry design” with glass beads as part of their midlife crisis?  I have a feeling that’s how this got started.  Please, Fernando, don’t have me made into a paperweight.  No one would dust me.
  • You can have your ashes painted into a painting:  http://www.memorials.com/art-in-ashes.php.  I love this idea.  Especially, if they could do me as one of those portraits whose eyes follow you when you walk across the room.  That would be awesome!
  • You can be stuffed into a teddy bear:  http://www.huggableurns.com/gallery.htm.  For those who want to haunt their kids or grandkids, and watch them freak the fuck out when the dog rips the teddy apart and spreads the insides all over the house.
  • This was my first record, ever.  I still know the words to every song on there.

    This was my first record, ever. I still know the words to every song on there.

    For those of us who remember vinyl LPs, you can have your ashes pressed into a vinyl record, with a recording of your last message, a song, or just the sound of your ashes crackling and popping:  http://www.andvinyly.com/.  They press enough discs to give out to your funeral guests as gifts to remember you by.  If I did this, I would want the recording to be of K-Tel’s Music Express, which was my very first, and very favorite record of all time.  I even made up a special dance routine for the song “Get Dancin'” by Disco Tex and the Sex-o-Lettes, that I still secretly do sometimes.  People could do the dance at my funeral.

  • You can ascend to the heavens in a helium balloon:  http://www.eternalascent.com/photogallery/miscellaneous.html.  This is kind of nice.  They put a cupful of your ashes into a big balloon (you can choose red, yellow, blue or green), fill it with helium, and then….let it go.  The balloon is sturdy enough, and has enough helium in it, to float up about five miles, where it freezes and shatters, and scatters you into the atmosphere.  You could make some beautiful sunsets.sg_firework
  • You can have your ashes put into fireworks, and shoot them off into the night sky!  http://www.heavensabovefireworks.com/.  Talk about going out with a bang!  You can have a big professional fireworks display like the kind you see at the holidays or after ballgames, or you can do smaller rockets for funeral guests to fire off themselves from a beach or something, for a more intimate send off.  I think this one might be my favorite.  For one thing, I’d get to have my funeral at night, and you all know I’m a night owl.  Also, it would create the proper atmosphere for serving corndogs, which is a must.  And it’s really not that far off of my Plan A with the coconuts; same kind of explosive idea, just less interactive.

There are so many choices, I can’t decide which one should be my Plan B!  Tell me what you think.  You can vote for up to three options, or tell me a new idea in the comments!

Shout out to Confessions of a Funeral Director for doing the leg work on the research!


Quinderella, You Shall Go To The Balls!

I was walking home from BART one day last week, and I saw this hilarious announcement in the window of Mr. Pollo on Mission Street:Mr Pollo

Of course, because I am irretrievably juvenile, I immediately thought of this:

But, after that, I remembered the sage words of Carrie Bradshaw in that episode of Sex and the City, where Carrie is trying to convince Samantha to go to Connecticut to crazy Laney Berlin’s baby shower:  “If  you’re driving down the road, and you see a sign that says ‘Two-Headed Snake,’ you pull over!”  I figure, a four course testicle tasting menu pretty much qualifies as the culinary equivalent of a two-headed snake, so I got my phone out right then and made a reservation.  (This mindset is also how I ended up taking fire-eating/breathing lessons, but that’s a story for another post.)

Chef Jonny Becklund and his fabulous gay cowboy apron. I couldn't get the sassy fringe on the bottom hem in the shot, but trust me, it really made the ensemble.

Chef Jonny Becklund and his fabulous cowboy apron.
I couldn’t get the sassy fringe on the bottom hem in the shot, but trust me, it really made the ensemble.

Best seat in the house

Best seat in the house

So, on the day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA and Prop 8, when Mr. Pollo’s rock star chef, Jonny Becklund, busted out his teste-centric celebratory menu, I had a VIP seat, front and center.  I can’t say I’d ever eaten Rocky Mountain oysters, Prairie Oysters, Bull Berries, or whatever you want to call them, before.  I’ve eaten grasshoppers, ant larvae, all manner of organ meats, and something unidentifiable that was dug out of a hole in the ground with a stick in India, but never testicles.  It wasn’t really on my bucket list, either, I must say.  But, I went with an open mind, and Becklund’s sense of humor, as much as his cooking, really won me over.  Gentle friends, I can honestly report, Becklund’s balls were delicious!

Yes, that's a tea bag in the soup.   Not just for comic effect, either; it really gave the broth a lovely, lemony touch

Yes, that’s a tea bag in the soup.
Not just for comic effect, either; it really gave the broth a lovely, lemony touch

The first course–and my introduction to testicle cuisine–was what Becklund called a “Ball Matzo Ball Soup,” with ground bull teste meat in the matzo ball and a lemon tea bag steeping in the broth.  That’s right.  Tea baggin‘ broth with testicle meat balls.  I could tell this was going to be a humor-filled menu.  I had a seat at the counter, and got to chat with the chef as he prepared each course.  When I laughed at the tea bag flourish, he explained, with an impish smile, that it wasn’t just for comic effect; the lemony tea bag also gave the perfectly seasoned, light broth a sort of pho-like quality that was really surprising.

The ever-so-helpful server, Will, giving advice on what wines go best with balls.  Turns out, it's dry white wine. Now you know.

The ever-so-helpful server, Will, giving advice on what wines go best with balls.  Turns out, it’s dry white wine.
Now you know.

As for the Ball-Ball, well…it wasn’t bad.  I was worried about what the texture of testes might be like (I’m big on textures), but the meat was ground up in the matzo mix, so I couldn’t really tell.  The ball was dense, like you would expect from a matzo ball, and had a vague sort of organ meaty note that might have bothered me if I didn’t know what it was.  But, since I did, I was able to process it just fine.  You know what I mean?  Like, if you think you’re about to drink milk, but you actually take a swig of Diet Coke, it tastes ghastly, but if you know it’s Diet Coke before it goes in, it’s fine.  Kind of like that.  But really, the broth was what made the dish.  Very nice.

This, gentle friends, is a testicle pizza

This, gentle friends, is a testicle pizza

To follow the soup, Becklund made a love child between an arepa (which Mr. Pollo is known for) and a pizzetta–a pizzepa?  I dunno.  But it was good.  I watched him hand press out the little arepa crusts and cook them on the griddle; he’s an arepa makin’ machine.  Then he topped them with sautéed chopped testicle meat, mushrooms, some cheese, threw them under the broiler, and then served them garnished with sam-ball (har har, get it?) oelek chili aioli and arugula (an inside joke, Becklund said, between him and Will, the server, because suddenly, in SF, every chef in town is topping pizza with arugula).  So, this super-fragrant dish had the testicle meat in pretty much it original state, but for the chopping.  I didn’t hate it.  Kinda reminded me of Vienna Sausages.  The combination of flavors and the spices on this one made it my favorite of the four courses.

I could hardly stop laughing long enough to eat it!

I could hardly stop laughing long enough to eat it!

The humor of the main course was less subtle than that of the soup.  Foreplay was over by that point, and Becklund was gettin’ down!  Crispy fried balls, unapologetically perched atop grilled zucchini, resting on a bed of arguably the most perfectly executed grits west of N’awlins, and garnished with alfalfa sprout pubes.  I know…gross, but funny!

Oh, that Chef Jonny is cheeky monkey

Oh, that Chef Jonny is cheeky monkey!

I was a little disturbed by the angry red sauce drizzle.  Not sure what kind of nightmare inspired that.  I would have gone with a buttermilk sauce, I think.  When asked, Becklund told me he was trying to put a Buffalo hot sauce flavor in there, so it wasn’t an aesthetically chosen ingredient.  And the flavor was a nice addition.

The Happy Ending

The Happy Ending

What would a family jewel themed menu be without a phallic happy ending?  Well, fortunately, I’ll never know, because dessert came in the form of a semi-frozen chocolate banana.  Why only semi-frozen?  Because Chef Becklund likes them that way.  The fully frozen ones hurt his teeth, he said.  I have to agree, I have to gum the frozen solid ones to a pulp before I can bite through them, so I was pleased these were still sort of soft.  The chocolate mantle was lovely and dark and bittersweet, with a delicate whisper of an orange blossom infusion that lightly hit you right in the back of the throat, just like a surprise of that kind should.  (Dad, if you’re reading this, please don’t infer too much from that last statement.)  The whole kaboodle was then rolled in cracked malt balls (“because, ya gotta get balls in there somewhere,” Chef Becklund said), and treated to a drizzle of a perfect caramel sauce and a pixie dust sprinkling of espresso salt.  (He let me smell the jar of espresso salt, and it was really deliciously smoky and…um…espresso-y.)  All in all, the perfect way to finish off this truly memorable fertility rite of a meal.

Blink, and you might miss it

Blink, and you might miss it.  It’s right across from 24th Street & Mission BART Station.

I asked Chef Becklund how many balls he had to buy to make this special, two-seating, event.  Seventeen pounds worth, was the answer.  All beef, because he had a hard time locating any other kind from local purveyors.  If you want testicles from other species, you have to have them shipped up from L.A., apparently.  So, given Mr. Pollo’s diminutive size–three seats at the counter, and four dinky tables–and only two sold out seatings, that calculates to a half pound of testes per person, or, about one full-sized bull ball each.  I think that’s enough, don’t you?  I just hope it doesn’t cause me to grow chest hair or give me road rage or something.  I’ll keep you posted.

Mr. Pollo's interior is bedecked with the work of local artists, friends of Chef Becklund

Mr. Pollo’s tiny interior is bedecked with the work of local artist friends of Chef Becklund

In the meantime, if you are in the neighborhood, Becklund does a different, non-testicle-based four course menu at Mr. Pollo every day for only $20.  You can’t beat that.  But get there early, or you won’t get in.  I’m telling you, this boy can cook.  I know there has been some dreary Mission District hipster drama about the changing of the guard at Mr. Pollo, when Becklund took the helm at the beginning of this year, but I can’t be bothered with all of that.  All I care about is the food, and Becklund really turns it out.  Plus, he’s a hoot and a half to chat with while he’s working.  He has “foie gras” tattooed across his knuckles (as well as a neck tattoo of someone I think might be Edward R. Murrow), and literally threw a guy out of the restaurant one night for asking him to make him a vegan arepa.  (No disrespect to the vegans out there, but come on, you don’t ask a chef with “foie gras” tattooed on his knuckles to make you a vegan anything.)  He pairs a wicked sense of humor and a white trash sensibility with a truly sophisticated palate and an artist’s creativity, and he really seems to have fun with his work.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I’ll definitely be back.