My first gordita
Life in California: Birdsong, flea markets, melty cheese, and chile
My neighbor Claudia says that every spring, the blue jays and the mockingbirds duke it out. They can’t both occupy the same slice of neighborhood, so some summers we have blue jays and some, mockingbirds. This year, the mockingbirds won, and I know that well because one in particular likes to perch itself staunchly atop the round telephone pole in front of my house and sing his little heart out.
Another neighbor Daniele said that means he hasn’t found a mate yet. And it’s true, his song is little desperate. It’s certainly constant, and intense. It’s like a car alarm, this little mockingbird warbler, with his insane litany of mismatched calls, one following the other just like the car alarms of yore (not so many years ago) who’s order I memorized, like the ice cream truck that comes up, with the super ‘hood, shirtless driver smoking a backwood. The “song” if you can call it that on his truck is truly crazy-making, especially the inane “hello!” tacked onto the end of it. Hilarious. It’s annoying, but we love it because it’s one more weird, unique, specific thing about our neighborhood. Dumb, and dear. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
In a few minutes, my neighbor Carolyn will pick me up for lunch. We’re going to El Grullense Taqueria down on Fruitvale for soup. They make these incredible Mexican soups with an entire beef joint packed with succulent meat, chunks of marrow floating in the broth. It’s a tiny place, narrow, in a trailer, with four or five cozy tables along a window.
We’re lucky to have these places, especially in this time of ever more costly food. As fun as it would be to visit the super hip places like the recently opened (and truly incredible) Bombera, I’ll content myself with more modest fare for now. And the thing is, it’s not necessarily more modest. In some cases — in many cases — it’s just as good as Bombera and others of their ilk. You just gotta know where to look and maybe have a little luck. Be adventurous, and use your nose.
For example, on Saturday, I went to the Antioch Flea Market, where I had a cup of mouth-watering, roasted corn with Mexican sour cream, feta cheese, lime, and chile. Sweet as could be. My mouth waters now just thinking about it. I had a…