Our second stop for Nina’s birthday dinner is a possibly overrated and definitely overcrowded bakery in the Mission. It’s a chilly Sunday twilight though, so we manage to find sitting at a communal table for all six of us together. Somebody mentions this new chocolate place in Palo Alto. Somebody mentions that new mac-n-cheese place in Oakland. St John speculates that with this trend for highly specialized places, soon there will be a place that serves absolutely nothing, and it will be immensely popular. He is positively incredulous that a place that serves mac-n-cheese, not even so great a food substance, would enjoy any popularity.
“I don’t know,” I say, “With comfort foods, it’s more about how you grew up, I think, not so much about rationality or how good it is. For instance, I don’t drink milk, but I never really liked it anyway, so I can’t understand why people are so up in arms about having milk with their cereal. Rationally speaking, it’s too much trouble getting the milk – not worth it. Everyone else must have grown up eating cereal with milk.” “I’m sorry,” St John interrupts, “How do you take your cereal?” “Depends,” I respond, “Either straight from the bag, or, if I feel fancy, I might pour it into a bowl and eat it from there with a spoon.” He is incredulous again: “What? This is nonsense! Next thing, we’ll be talking about people stabbing themselves in their own hands with knives!” He illustrates that by gesturing with his long beautiful hands. I open my left hand and show him the scar. “You stabbed your hand with a knife?” – he asks. “Mhm.” “How did that happen? Are you a gangster?” “Well, let’s not go there. I don’t really talk about this much.” “You are a wonderful and fascinating lady, but you terrify me.”