Posted in artisan food, food, Food Writing, funny, Greece, humor, stray cats, travel, travel writing, Uncategorized

How Catty

Stray cats. Street cats. Beach cats. Cafe cats.

I had traveled to the Greek island of Lesvos, not because I wanted to learn about its stray cat population, but because I wanted to explore its tasty treats populating bakery shelves. Since this woman cannot live on baklava alone, I was eating a fig and walnut salad and salted sardines on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the Aegean Sea.

As waves lapped at the shore, I slurped the remaining morsels from the sardine skeleton. The more I bit, the more I nibbled, the more the spiky, spiny bones jabbed and stabbed my tongue. I didn’t want to swallow any. I stopped eating. I pushed the plate aside.

I waited for the waiter to take away my plate. I waited for the waiter to say, “Anything else? Would you like some water?” I waited and waited.

Just as I was wondering whether anyone would come clear my plate, someone did appear. Half a foot tall, about a foot long, pointy ears, white fur splashed with orange, it sat kitty corner from my left, swishing its long tail over the deck.

“Hello,” I crooned, “aren’t you pretty.”

It opened its mouth wide, revealing sharp, pointy, white teeth. Hungrily, it eyed the sardines.

“No,” I told it. “No.”

As I stared down the cat on my left, a tiger cat crept forward on my right; jumping onto the seat next to me, it leapt onto the table, and snatched a sardine.

“No!” I yelped.

Not one person on the deck glanced my way. Not one waiter rushed to my aid.

Taking matters into my own hands, I picked up my camera and when the cat came back, I snapped photo after photo of it stealing sardines, licking my plate clean.

Several minutes–and several photos–later, my waiter ran over. “This is a restaurant!” he shouted, waving his arms.

“Something must be done about the cats,” I said.

“The cats are stray, but you did nothing to shoo them away.”

The situation presented an interesting question: was it the responsibility of the customer to keep the cats from dining at the restaurant or the responsibility of the restaurant to keep the cats from dining with the humans?

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Posted in artisan food, Bay Area News, chicken soup, food, Food Writing, friendship, grocery shopping, Grocery Stores, letters, memoir, personal essays, saying goodbye, small businesses, Uncategorized

A Goodbye To Savor

A tribute I wrote to my beloved grocery store appeared in today’s Chronicle, in its own special section with a touching illustration. I added the photos below for extra flavor.

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Posted in authors, Books, bookshelf, Food mysteries, Food Writing, Libraries, Little Free Library, Mysteries, mystery authors, news, NYTimes.com, Uncategorized, writing

Q Is For Quirky

Q Is For Quarry is the name of a Sue Grafton mystery that I passed by on my walk the other day. I have a new route that takes me past a Little Free Library.

For those not in the know, Little Free Libraries are very small, wooden structures perched on top of a post. Passerby are encouraged to take –or leave– a book.

The previous week I had left Gone Girl, which I picked up about two months ago from another Little Free Library. It was quite riveting, but I was ready to part with it, so I dropped it off. I was curious whether anyone else had picked it up or had left any other books.

Q Is For Quarry caught my eye. It was a hardback. It beckoned to me. I opened the little Little Free Library Door, but wasn’t sure if I’d like it. I am very particular about mysteries and gravitate toward those involving food (my favorite authors are Joanne Fluke and Ellen Hart). I started to walk away, but the book called to me again. I thought about bringing it home. I thought of the other books waiting at home for me. I didn’t want to bring it home, only to neglect it.

Fast forward twelve hours. I was scanning headlines on nytimes.com to see if anything jumped out at me. One headline did. It read: “Sue Grafton, Whose Detective Novels Spanned The Alphabet, Dies At 77.”

How quirky to have had a special connection with her book only hours before. Perhaps her spirit wished to talk with me. When Sue Grafton was still alive, we had been in touch via snail mail. I had asked her a question. She typed a response and then kept me on her mailing list, sending holiday greetings every year. Recently she told her fans about her surgery and book tour cancellation; she enclosed a tiny flashlight like that her character, Kinsey Millhone, uses. I sent a thank you note and best wishes for her recovery. I keep the flashlight on my keychain for good luck. I am sad that she’s gone. I will miss her sweet cards.