This week's tablehopper: food for thought.


This is what mad flavor looks like. The “Malaysian chilaquiles” from Azalina’s. Photo: ©

Oh, hello Friday afternoon. I never thought you’d get here. Damn, what took you so long? What’s on your docket this weekend? Here’s something to consider: the newly launched brunches at Maven, Old Skool Cafe, Pera, Parallel 37, or Hopscotch in Oakland, if you’re looking for something new.

Last night I was fortunate to attend the preview party for the SF Street Food Festival at Fort Mason. The room was packed with food vendors who will be serving their specialties at the festival and at the exciting new addition this year, the night market. I think my favorite part of the night was having the time to talk to the vendors face to face, to learn about their dishes, and to hear their stories and where they come from. Sure, the SF Street Food Festival is exciting and full of crazy-delicious food, but it’s important to remember each person’s dish has such a personal story to tell. Many come from so far away, like Ethiopia or Japan or Colombia—or they’re longtime SF locals—but all have such pride and care for their dishes, their spices, their mother’s recipes, their ancestors’ traditions.

Every person in that room last night is working so hard to create a successful food business, many of them starting with very little. As a member of the media, you become acutely aware of how much a story about them (and their product) could make a difference in their business. And as consumers, how much our support matters, whether we hire them for catering or buy their tasty hummus at Whole Foods Market (who works closely with La Cocina to carry products from their incubator businesses).

The other thing that really touched me is just how excited everyone was to feed you. To tell you about their dish. To ask if you liked it. I was just overwhelmed with how much heart goes into it all. So next month, when I’m waiting in line at the festival or night market for the “Malaysian chilaquiles” from Azalina’s or the panucho from Chaac-Mool or the moi-moi from Chiefo’s Kitchen, I’m going to remember the pride and excitement each of these vendors has to be participating in the event, and most important, I’m going to think about their dreams, which is basically to feed people their wonderful food. It’s profound. Deep soul. I know, I’m a total sap, but I was really moved last night.

I want to do a shout-out to Caleb Zigas and his amazing team (and volunteers!) at La Cocina who all work so hard at this, and each year keep making this festival bigger, better, and even more bodacious. We’re being exposed to so many unique things through this event, we are so damn lucky. All while helping so many women-owned businesses get the exposure and support they need. Thank you.

And I also owe a thank-you to the readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, for voting tablehopper the best food website. Like, wow. Thanks, yo!

Have a marvy weekend, all.

Marcia Gagliardi

View tablehopper Newsletter from Friday, Jul 27 2012