I woke up in a foggy dream – Living in San Francisco

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It was the week before my finals in Rome and two days before I had to pack up and prepare for a 2-week Euro trip with my boyfriend. I was in a mess of papers and clothes when I received an acceptance call to work in San Francisco….

It was so fast and honestly not what I expected. Now a rising senior, this was my last summer before the real world. College has flown by so fast. Having already worked in a corporate world, I wanted something different. Now here I am in the coldest, most beautiful summer in San Francisco.

Every day is an incredible food adventure and honestly, this city isn’t perfect but it’s near perfection in my eyes. The worst sin of the city is gluttony, but the difference between sin and virtue here is turning it into a job. I think everyone takes it seriously that they are a part-time food critic. I can’t complain though, Florida does not have enough of these savvy taste buds walking around our cities to demand the level of quality SF has. Not to mention,  social activism is second-nature and the biking culture can only bring the best out of anyone. I think my favorite part is the public transportation, but not in the sense of convenience. I just love seeing all the elderly getting around like it’s no big deal. Many of them (mostly asian elders) could be in their 70-80s and they are still pretty independent. It really humbles me and reminds me that damn if they can do it, I have no excuse to slow down.

I won’t have photos from my DSLR to share mostly because of procrastination (2,500+ photos to sort through from Europe still), and also this summer I had to let my boyfriend babysit our camera since I took it for 4 months. This will be repetitive if you follow my Instagram, but I just wanted to reflect on these moments which 100 hashtags could never accomplish.

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Having been pretty nostalgic with Italian café culture, I flew to the right place. When it is as simple as chains mimicking French bakeries to art galleries turned into coffee shops in the financial district, I’m in love. For me it’s close enough and c’mon, free samples at La Boulange?? Nothing gets better than that. We like to go in and pretend to be customers then take the sample and use their condiments of jam and nutella to top it off. #FatassStatus #proud

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This is Minna Gallery adjacent to my office. Cozy, great art, simple coffee, and awesome doughnuts they give us for free at the end of the day.

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It has definitely been a challenge in the burger battle of West coast In-n-Out and East coast Shake Shack. I have to admit the price for the size of their Double-Double ($3.05) beats Shake Shack’s Shack Burger ($4.85) which only has one meat patty. However, their animal fries and shakes cannot trump Shake Shack’s amazing fluffy fries and creamy custard.

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On a lighter note, to counteract that greasy, delicious meat heaven, the next day you just find your nearest neighbor’s fruit tree and reap the glory of stealing-I mean borrowing- unpicked fruit. The picture above doesn’t do justice. The inside looks like a very ripe peach, but the outside represent something like half-way between a nectarine and cherry. I still have no idea what this is called in English, so if you do, help a sista out in the comments.

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I doubt anyone can understand my drooling love for durian except those who have tried it and liked it. It’s known as the king of fruits, but better described as the smelliest fruit in the world. “The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense disgust, and has been described variously as almonds, rotten onions, turpentine, raw sewage” (by yours truly Wikipedia). It is so bad that it is banned in numerous airports where durian is prevalent, such as Malaysia. I definitely have that “deep appreciation.” What you see pictured above is a Durian pastry served at some dim sum restaurants. It’s considered a delicacy a.k.a flaky, buttery, creamy goodness. The highlight of my dim sum experiences thus far.

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So enough of illegal fruit, discovering Shabu-Shabu has been another favorite here. Maybe because of the thinly sliced Kobe Beef and Lamb are of amazing quality, no seasoning needed. Just dump it into hot boiling soup with a ton of various vegetables and you have your meat cooked in 10 seconds. Simple and great quality, can’t beat that in flavor. Pictured above is the lamb, one of the three plates of meat we ordered at Shabu House.

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After awhile, I do miss Italian cuisine since I was freaking hooked for 5 months abroad. The great thing about SF’s very eco-conscious attitude is that we get to reap an amazing farmer’s market every Saturday morning at Alemany amongst many others in the area. It is really affordable and we get to meet the people that work the farms so you can ask them directly all your questions about what you are eating. Unfortunately, many other places in the US, including FL there is such a disconnect between where our food comes from and putting it into our mouths. Pictured above is the dinner I cooked for my family since I could never compete in Asian cuisine cooking. I made caprese insalata, fiori di zucca crostini, and Pesto Genovese funghi pomodoro tortellini.

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Keeping in mind after I had returned from Rome, I was only home in Miami for a brief 3 weeks. I was dying for Peruvian or Cuban food. My cousin and I discovered this affordable and delicious Peruvian place called Limón Rotisserie in Mission. It was pretty cheap for splitting a half roasted chicken. The sides were really complementary, too. The presentation and restaurant ambience was impressive for the affordability, too.

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Reason #96 of why I’m obsessed with SF: I can eat Bimbimbap in the sizzling pot for lunch. #Convenient on #BushSt

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Talking about homey Asian dishes like wonton soup, you can get this for $5 a bowl in Chinatown.

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Everything a crepe should not be: soggy, stale, thick, cakey, and with shit toppings. This one was crispy at the edges, warm and soft, but even as it was thin, it was still sturdy and soft… filled with vanilla bean ice cream, nutella, and strawberries. Classic done right.

Funny because I started this blog entry not to talk about food, but I guess this is where my mind is right now, and it’s hard to just say I’m in SF without mentioning all the glory of the food. I came here for two major reasons: Family and my boyfriend told me to GTFO of Florida. Ha jk, he just wants the best for me so he encouraged me to pursue my long wish to live here. Essentially this is my chance to see if I like it… but it really has become more than that.

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I have a lot of family here. I have 11 cousins and all those aunties and uncles that brought them to this world. I hate to pick favorites, but my grandma definitely wins. It’s those moments that we eat, sit, chit-chat, have communication issues, that I enjoy. From the moments I see her struggling with eating something not soft enough to when she laughs really makes me wish I had my camera to catch these candid moments. She’s 85 and I feel like she fills my world. I feel whole around her. I am not sure why or how, but she does it. Maybe it’s because she doesn’t judge, maybe it’s because her heart is full and content, maybe it’s because she doesn’t know anything else, maybe it’s because it was so much worse before that today and every day is so much better, maybe it’s because I’m always stuffed with food when I visit her…  Idk.

Growing up is tough and it’s nice to see that maybe it won’t be that bad when I’m older. Things do get better. I remember reading somewhere that with age comes happiness. I just think that when we’re young there’s this need to establish who we are and to tell the world or to prove to someone/thing. Having all these expectations makes happiness so much further than it really is. I really believe happiness is right in front of us if we can accept everything else.

Living here, I have seen an old woman light up with joy when I simply asked her if she needs help with carrying her groceries across the street, and I have seen incredible frustration from a homeless man getting only food or a few coins from a stranger. My favorite is catching a glimpse of someone’s genuine happiness after hearing good news in a text. Never seen this before and it was so nice that it made me happy, too. I have seen a woman on the bus suddenly look up and seem to talk to herself with incredible terror in her eyes then slowly talk herself back to normal. My observations reminds me of the grace of being human.

Seeing the disconnect of the city, if looked far too similar to my family relationships. My hope is that my whole family can one day be as content as my grandma, myself especially. I hope that one day we are not so far and distant at heart as we are now. I hope that one day everyone can find company in their loneliness. And I hope most of all that we can be that company for each other. This is my hope for everyone.

Look around and find questions

Look to others and find inspiration

Look inward and you will find answers

-My lessons in San Francisco

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