Hi, I'm Katerina and I LOVE food. Come join me (:

After reading Eating Animals by Foer in our reader and watching that short clip in class about the chicken farms, I have really come to be more knowledgable about all the different points of view on eating meat, whether it be chicken, cows, or even pigs. When I finished reading this chapter and watching that clip, my outlook on eating meat completely changed. I don’t want to sound cliche or anything, but I highly considered not eating any types of meat. It’s something that I’ve considered before, but actually becoming knowledgable about the subject and learning about how animals are treated just so that they can meet peoples’ expectations, really opened my eyes. I am not a vegetarian, and I still enjoy eating meat, but now I’m more conscious and aware.

While I watched the clip in class, I couldn’t help but remember the horrific movie I watched in my Psychobiology class about Mad Cow Disease. I connected the clip to that particular film because after hearing how chickens are given particular antibiotics or supplements to make them weigh an abnormal amount that the chicken itself cannot hold, causing them to plop down after a few steps, I immediately thought of how the cows were fed certain proteins that came from sheep spinal cords (and even brains) who suffered from scrapies (almost like a version of Mad Cow Disease–which also results in holes in the brain–in sheep that causes them to constantly scratch at their skin). And this really stuck in my head because just knowing that some chickens are given something so that they are heavier and more plump, really scares me and breaks my heart. These animals aren’t treated with the respect that every life is entitled to, and the fact that their growth is being manipulated by people to make them “more meaty” just isn’t right. On page 98 of Foer’s chapter, he explains it perfectly: “The animals you know have power: they have abilities humans lack, could be dangerous, could bring life, mean things that mean things…Animals are what you are and are not. You have a complex relationship with them, and, in a sense, and egalitarian one” (Foer 98).

Even though I feel strongly about how animals are treated, I do understand that there is another side. On page 97 of Foer’s chapter, he writes, “Before you rush off trying to see everything you can, educate yourself…Learn about animals, learn about farming and the economics of food, learn the history” (Foer 97). I think this is significant to consider because rather than having someone react irrationally due to their strong feelings without knowing the facts, someone could actually take the time to learn about it and act more logically. There is more to having an opinion, and in order to formulate a more educated and reasonable opinion, one should be knowledgable.


Sit Down With My Mom (:


As I prepped to interview my mom, I found myself observing her as she moved about our house. I noticed that she is always keeping herself busy; when I saw her, she was doing laundry, toasting a bagel for herself to eat, cleaning the kitchen counters, searching our refrigerator for our tub of cream cheese, and just constantly moving around. When I finally caught her at the perfect time, she sat down at our kitchen counter to eat her Parmesan bagel from Costco, topped with Philadelphia cream cheese–not whipped. We sat next to each other in the kitchen, her bagel in front of her and my laptop in front of me. I asked if she was ready for the interview, and she gave me the okay to proceed.

Me: What did I hate eating when I was younger? How did you deal with that?

Mom: You hated eating apple sauce. You made a sour face every time I tried to get you to eat it. Until now you don’t really like apple sauce…

Me: What did I love eating?

Mom: Noodles! That’s why your dad named you Noodles. You liked noodles and you loved lobster before; every time we went to a restaurant you always wanted lobster. Even if it’s expensive, we had to order it for you.

Me: Did you cook different things before you were married than after?

Mom: No, it’s always Filipino food.

Me: How has your relationship with food changed over the years?

Mom: It did not change at all. That’s a strange question…

Me: How did you start cooking? What made you want to start?

Mom: When I got married. When I started a family. I was the only one that cooked when I got married.

Me: What is your favorite meal to make?

Mom: Oh my God…chicken adobo. It’s easy to cook.

Me: What were my table manners like as a kid?

Mom: Very good! You were disciplined. No problems. You sat at the table and ate what everybody else was eating. You taste every single food and you don’t make faces, and when you don’t like the food, you just put it aside; you didn’t say anything if you didn’t like the food.

Me: How were your parents cooking?

Mom: Oh! Grandma’s was the best! Nobody can make Grandma’s cooking! You know how she was like with her cooking. Her cooking is authentic and original, and nobody can copy her cooking. She makes it so delicious that even if she gives the recipe to anybody, nobody can copy it; it’s totally different. I think it is the touch.

Me: What did your parents cook?

Mom: She cooked all kinds of Filipino food. She made Sinigang a lot, and Estofado…I think that’s a Mexican dish. Those were the family’s favorite; anytime we had company, they always requested those two.

Me: What are your favorite food memories of me growing up?

Mom: The fish. Whenever Grandma and I fed you fish, you didn’t like it. You liked some fish, but you didn’t like the boney fish. You didn’t like it because it’s hard to take the meat out and there were too many bones. You were afraid of swallowing bones, and that they would go to your lungs.

Me: Why did you cook more than Dad?

Mom: Because Dad didn’t know how to cook. He didn’t have any idea how to cook. He’d cook SPAM! Jesus…It’s because we grew up with maids in the Philippines. But I learned how to cook growing up by watching Grandma. Your dad’s parents didn’t teach him how. Not at all.

Me: Do you regret cooking or feeding me anything?

Mom: No. I want you to taste everything; why would I regret it? At least you can taste everything.

Me: Is there a special food that reminds you of me?

Mom: The Vietnamese soup! The Pho. That’s your favorite soup to eat. When you don’t feel good, that’s the soup I buy.

Me: Did you cook for me or for yourself? Did you have to cook separate dishes for me because I didn’t like what you were making?

Mom: Yes, I would cook you separate food because sometimes you don’t like the food that I cook. But your pickiness doesn’t keep me from eating my favorite food; we just have separate dishes sometimes. We eat the same things a lot, though.

Me: What foods did you stop cooking once you started a family?

Mom: I stopped cooking Pancit because it’s too hard to make—too many ingredients. It involves a lot of cooking. It’s too complicated.

Me: How did you think you’d feed me when I was little, and did that change?

Mom: No, until now, it did not change a lot. It’s the same thing, never changed.

Me: How would you rate yourself as a cook?

Mom: Good, because people like my food. They say I cook good; very tasty. Especially my spaghetti and my Sinigang! They love my spaghetti because I make my own sauce from scratch, and they love my Sinigang because it’s sour but still palatable.

Me: Did you have any kitchen disasters? Did you burn anything?

Mom: No, not at all.

Me: What do you hope I’ll cook when I have my own family?

Mom: My spaghetti! And the Sinigang.

Me: Do you wish you made more of something that you don’t cook very often?

Mom: Yeah, the Pancit. I don’t cook that very often. I want people to be able to taste my Pancit, and I want to hear what they have to say.

Me: If you could have any meal (the ultimate meal) what would it be?

Mom: Anything? I don’t know. I would have my mom’s Estofado if I can, I love her Estofado…but nobody can make it. Nobody can make Mom’s Estofado!

Me: Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?

Mom: I cook because I have to. I don’t really enjoy it too much; I just buy. It’s just too many things to do!


After I interviewed my mom, I actually learned some new things from her. I knew that cooking wasn’t one of her favorite things to do, but after talking to her a little bit and asking her questions, I find that she actually doesn’t cook because she doesn’t have time. She wants to cook, but realistically, adding our completely separate and busy lives into the equation, there just isn’t time to do so. My mom is a single parent and a registered nurse; she’s always busy and always on the move. After my dad passed away, it was always just the two of us either going out to eat or her buying food to bring home for us to eat together. We are both just so busy with our lives that we hardly ever really have time to cook a full-on meal; the only times we ever do are for birthdays or holidays. So when we have the opportunity to sit down and have a meal together, whether it be out to eat or homemade, we really cherish it. Now that I’m nearing the end of my undergraduate career, we find ourselves scheduling days for us to spend together. It’s terrible to say I know, but our schedules just hardly give us any free time to really hang out and spend time just doing nothing. Because of this, we really appreciate any time that we have available to spend with one another…like this interview, or even shopping (one of our favorite things to do together)! (:


For our final class field trip, we made our way to the Gourmet Ghetto, located in North Berkeley. We were informed that we would be going to a total of 9 different places, all within the three hours we had. So right after meeting up, the entire class split into two and we began our excursions.

Our first stop was a restaurant called Poulet. From the name (which is French for “chicken”), I’m sure you can guess that this restaurant focused mainly on chicken. Here, the food we were given the opportunity to try was an adobo chicken with a shaved brussel sprout salad and quinoa salad. Right off the bat, I immediately thought of the Filipino version of adobo chicken and thought of how this version different quite a bit. This particular chicken was not soaked in sauce and was not as dark as the adobo chicken I am used to. Instead, as I bit into this chicken, I noticed that it was very juicy on the inside; a bit charred on the outside from roasting, and a reddish-orange color from the chile; it was not spicy at all. The brussel sprout salad was very bitter and threw me off a bit, leading me to sprinkle quite a bit of salt on top. However, the quinoa salad was quite different and had a good bite to it. The fresh, grainy flavor of the salad complemented the roasted chicken very well and helped to balance out the bitterness from the brussel sprouts.


Next, we went to the Epicurious Garden where we took part in a chocolate tasting session at Alegio Chocolate. Here, we were given the opportunity to try seven different types of chocolate. First, we tried just a straight chocolate bean; it resembled a coffee bean and was extremely bitter. The bitterness of the bean was almost repulsive in that it caused my face to scrunch up in agony as I forced myself to swallow it; the bitter flavor engulfed my mouth and filled it with a terrible flavor. After that, we tried five types of chocolate, ranging from 78%, to orange flavored, and even to raisin-flavored (in my opinion). These were thin slices of chocolate that were broken up for us by the vendor, and we tried them one by one. My favorite of these would have to be the 75% because the balance of bitterness and sweetness fit together very well, and neither flavor was more potent than the other. Last, we were given the opportunity to try chocolate covered coffee beans, which by far, was my absolute favorite. The sweet chocolate covered the coffee bean in a round ball, and the coffee flavor caused the chocolaty taste to be even more potent.


After this, we made our way to Soop, where we tried a Thai Red Lenil soup. The soup was vegan, and as soon as I had the miniature bowl in my hand, I could immediately smell the coconut milk. In the orange-red soup, there were lentils and green onions. Once I took a spoonful and put it in my mouth, I could detect the lentils right away, feeling like mushy rice that has been softened by the soup. Much like what I smelled first, I could sense the coconut milk off the bat. It had a calming feel to it and definitely reminded me of a soup one would eat if they were sick.


When we finished our soups, we made our way to the original Peet’s Coffee and stood in the museum. Here, there were shallow bowls atop a dresser filled with different coffee beans, a map on the wall showing different countries, an old coffee roaster, and different coffee pressers filling up a cabinet against a back wall. Here, we were given samples of a coffee (Dickason) and tea (Oolong). The coffee was extremely bitter, and I found my face scrunch together, the same way it did with the chocolate bean. The tea was much better and had a pleasant flavor, reminding me of the teas that I drink at Chinese restaurants before a meal.


For our fifth stop, we made our way up two flights of stairs to a bakery called Love At First Bite. Here, the baker greeted us and she introduced us to the history of the place. After talking for a bit, she gave us the chance to eat a mini cupcake (much like at Mission Mini’s). I decided to get a more common flavor, and went for the chocolate. The cupcake itself was extremely moist, spongy and foamy from the canola oil. And the (cream cheese?) frosting was so smooth and very light, brown in color to match the chocolate cupcake, topped with a little dash of colorful sprinkles.


We then made our way to Lush Gelato & Café, located in the Epicurious Garden. As I scanned the flavors, I saw Tahitian Vanilla and was automatically reminded of Humphrey Slocombe in San Francisco. I felt my eyes grow large with horror as I grew afraid to try the flavors because of my experience in The City. But after coming across Espresso & Chocolate Chunks Gelato, I grew more comfortable and opted to get a scoop of this. I was pleasantly satisfied, as it tasted like a classic java chip ice cream, with its potent coffee flavor and large, rich chocolate chunks. I was surprised at how creamy the gelato was because I was expected a thinner type of formula.


After finishing our scoop of gelato, we made our way to Grégoire where we were each given a potato puff. These little round golden balls were extremely hot and looked as though they were dipped in a type of batter so that they each held their shape. I dipped my puff into a type of aioli sauce, a salmony-pinkish-orange color, and light in texture with a spicy kick. When I bit into the puff, the heat from it burned the roof of my mouth and the steam escaped from it batter coating. The inside looked like mashed potatoes shaped into a ball, and the saltiness of the puff completely filled my mouth. I could not really tell if it was more salt or more butter, but the puff was definitely one of my favorites nonetheless. I wish I had ordered a box of them to take home!


Following our puffs, we went to The Local Butcher Shop and tried a ham and Gruyere cheese sandwich. I bit into the small sandwich, the bread cover in flour (?), and noticed how hard and tough the bread was. I found myself biting down hard, trying to chomp into the bread with enough force to give me a clean bite. Once I succeeded, I detected a sweet flavor in the sandwich (was it the cheese or the ham?) and was soon greeted by the leafy flavor of the greens. I could hardly taste anything else in the sandwich (not even the mustard). The ham was thick and looked a bit greasy, a light tickle-me-pink color, almost blending in with the white Gruyere cheese.


We ended our field trip to the Gourmet Ghetto at Cheese Board where we were given a slice of pizza made with cremini mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil; I took note that the pizza contained absolutely no tomato sauce. When I pulled my slice off the tray, my fingers became oiled with grease and my slice drooped as I transferred it to my napkin. The grease began to soak through my TWO layers of napkins and the heat warmed my cold hand. The top of the pizza was a creamy white color, brown in certain spots from being cooked in the oven, little puddles of light green olive oil, and brown chunks of mushrooms. It was sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and basil, too. I took a bite of my slice and the cheese became stringy as I pulled it apart; I tasted the potent mozzarella cheese and was pleasantly surprised by the rubbery-like mushroom chunks. The grease from the pizza (or olive oil, rather), coated my mouth and the pizza just slid right down my throat, ending our field trip at the Gourmet Ghetto on a fantastic note.


I think this field trip was my favorite one out of the three we took this January and I will definitely be returning to the Gourmet Ghetto in the future. I highly recommend coming here to try the foods, especially the chocolate covered coffee beans, the cupcakes, the potato puffs, and the pizza, of course.


My three random ingredients are probably things one could find in the kitchen right now: Nutella, chile powder, and guava juice. Okay, well, maybe the guava juice is a little more out of the ordinary, but not too hard to find in the grocery store, nonetheless. For this particular blog, I will be explaining my HORRIBLE cooking adventure where I had to come up with some sort of food using the three ingredients above. Let’s get started…


When I was brainstorming on what I should make, I automatically knew I wanted to make a desert because two of the three ingredients are sweet, and I figured the chile powder would offer good opposition since it is spicy—sweet and spicy. After figuring that out, I thought of making some sort of desert based off of Tiramisu. I would use the Nutella as the creamy mixture, the guava juice as what I would soak the ladyfingers in, and the chile powder as a quick topping. The only additional ingredient I needed was the ladyfingers, but since I could not find any at my local grocery store, I settled for butter shortbread…that was a complete fail.


I began my desert by taking a shallow jar and lining the bottom of it with broken up pieces of shortbread. The shortbread broke easily into larger pieces, but trying to get them smaller was a nightmare. Each piece crumbled into numerous pieces, creating a huge mess on my kitchen counter. After I covered the entire bottom, I poured some of the guava juice in, making sure to soak each piece. This layer looks like a goopy mess of wet crumbs. And the smell was not appetizing at all; the guava juice completely threw me off. It smelled of plastic fruit! Following that, I took a large spoonful of Nutella and spread it atop the bottom layer of shortbread and guava juice. The Nutella smelled just like the Ferrero Rocher candies, filling my nose with the scent of hazelnut. Then I repeated those steps again, breaking up pieces of shortbread, putting them evenly atop the layer of Nutella, and then covering that second layer of shortbread with another spoonful of Nutella. Since that filled the shallow jar up to the top, I simply took my chile powder and sprinkled it all over the top, giving the top of my concoction a red and brown decorative appearance. I wanted to smell the chile, but I was afraid the little specs of chile would fly up my nose and cause me to sneeze a billion times all over my food.


After garnishing my “Nuava-misu” (Nutella+guava juice…clever right?), I popped it into the fridge to let it all set and hopefully turn my crumbly mess into something better. I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, and then I tried a bit. I took a long-necked spoon and took the smallest amount of every layer possible. I saw the guava juice making its way to the top of my jar, begging to escape the suffocation from the Nutella keeping it compressed. I lifted the spoon to my nose and smelled the guava while I examined the desert. I brought it to my mouth and IMMEDIATELY ran to my sink to spit it out. The guava juice mixed with the Nutella was not a good combination at all and it left a horrible after taste in my mouth. Again, I felt like I ate flavored plastic…like those little wax candies you had to bite the top off to get the Coca-Cola flavored liquid out of. Absolutely horrid. The Nutella began to melt in my mouth, and the guava gathered into a puddle in my mouth, mixing with my saliva and engulfing my tongue. Because of that, I could not even sense the chile!


Anyways, this Chopped Cooking Adventure of mine was a complete fail and I do not recommend anyone to try the combination of Nutella, chile powder, and guava juice. Just…don’t do it.


On Thursday, January 17, 2013, my class and I took a field trip to Japantown in San Francisco. We started off our entire field trip by meeting at the Peace Pagoda and then splitting into two groups. Afterwards, we began our tours. Following a quick history talk about Japantown, we went to our first stop, Yakini Café. As soon as we walked in, I was completely taken by the adorableness of the café! Once we walked in, two the right was the kitchen that had yummy-looking pastries out, and towards the back were numerous tables where people could sit. The group and I made our way to the large table set up in the back for us and we were soon given our sample: sweet potato lattes—minus the coffee. I took a cup for myself and noticed the white foam at the top; it looked like a cloud sitting atop my sweet potato latte. After listening to the creator talk about the origin of the drink and how it is typically more of a Korean comfort drink, I took a sip. It was definitely not what I expected. At first, I expected my upper lip to be burned by the hot drink and I expected to be hit with a kick of caffeine; I was wrong. The drink was just warm and literally all that filled my mouth was the flavor of the sweet potato. As I drank more and more, I could actually feel the fibers coming from the sweet potato puree filling my mouth, rough and a bit grainy. I could definitely see why it could be a comfort drink, but I think it would have actually been better with some coffee mixed in…but hey, that might just be me since I LOVE coffee.


Our next stop was Benkyodo. When we first walked in, to the right it looked almost like a little diner where one could get their food cooked right in front of them; and then to the left, it looked like a little pastry shop with sweets on display in the window. At this location, we were given the opportunity to try a sweet food called mochi. I tried the traditional mochi that contained a red bean paste enclosed in the mochi. I absolutely love red bean paste, so I was pretty excited to try the mochi. When I received my mochi ball, it was cold to the touch and was firm yet still a bit squishy. The mochi was actually quite smooth as well and easy to manipulate and shape; it was also covered in a white powder (flour or sugar?). I bit into the mochi ball and I immediately thought of that Chinese desert of sesame balls that are quite similar to the mochi balls, containing a red bean paste in a chewy ball covered in sesame seeds. The mochi was extremely sweet and the taste of sugar filled my mouth. The sweetness was so overpowering that it actually started to make the back of throat hurt due to its richness.


After we ate our mochi, we made our way across the street to Super Mira Market. This particular place is like a grocery store in one section, a pastry section in another, and a restaurant as well. We made our way to the restaurant section and sat down in the front corner of the market. There, we were given our first sample of a croquette with a type of seaweed and pickled vegetable. The croquette was like a fried breaded potato. It also had a type of sauce on top (almost like a katsu sauce). It was absolutely delicious! I bit into the croquette and it was almost like eating mashed potatoes! I loved the croquette and the breaded outside was like perfection and was so yummy! The seaweed and pickled vegetables were also quite good. Following this, we were then given a bowl of soba noodles. I was so excited to get this because I have wanted to try soba noodles for so long, and now I finally got the opportunity to have some. The soba noodles were a grayish-purple color, and they were in a golden colored soup. I took my chopsticks and grabbed a pile of noodles. The steam was rising from my pile of noodles, so I blew on them a couple times to cool them off. I then took a bite of the noodles. The noodles had a subtle flavor and the soup was salty and helped the soup be more tasteful. I slurped all of the rest of the soup and ate the little bit of “fish hot dog” (as our tour guide said) that was in my bowl. I think the soup and croquette were my favorite things to eat because they were the perfect meals for me to eat since I was still a bit sick and still recovering. I also felt like they were really traditional and I appreciated being able to eat these foods.

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Next we went to a restaurant/store called New People. On the first floor was the restaurant portion of the building, and on the upper levels were the stores. This place was quite big and the restaurant portion reminded me of a diner again…it was probably because of the silver chairs and tables. Here, we were given the opportunity to try onigiri. There were three different types of onigiri, and I decided to try the kale onigiri. It was basically a triangle of brown rice topped with a mixture of kale and sesame seeds and wrapped with seaweed. I went to take a bite and immediately tasted salt. The onigiri was quite good and I enjoyed eating it, however, because the portion was actually quite large, I couldn’t finish it. I did like the onigiri, but I also think that the saltiness of it kind of turned me away from it. It was definitely a good little snack and reminded me of SPAM masubi.


After eating our onigiri, we made our way to one of the malls and went to May’s Coffee Shop. Here, we tried the Japanese fish-shaped waffles called taiyaki. Instead of having it with read bean paste (since we had that with the mochi), we had the taiyaki with chocolate and banana. When we were given the dish of taiyaki, I immediately noticed how cute the shape was! It really was shaped like a fish. But the best part was how crisp the fish-shaped waffle was. I could feel the warmth of the waffle and see the chocolate inside. The waffle was a bit squishy and looked kind of spongey. I bit into the waffle and the flavors of the banana and chocolate filled my mouth. Much like the mochi, sweetness overpowered my senses. It was really yummy, however, I think I was falling into a sugar coma. Even though we didn’t eat many sweets, I felt like I had a bunch of dessert for some reason. As I finished the waffle, I hurried and searched my purse for my water bottle to help wash down the sweet flavors of the banana and chocolate.


Once we finished our taiyaki, we made our way upstairs to Mifune Don where we tried okonomiyaki. Our tour guide explained it to be almost like a Japanese pancake that was topped with almost like a shaved/shredded fish, shrimp, and the Japanese mayonnaise kewpie. I’m pretty sure there is more in it, but I just can’t remember. Our waitress had already cut our okonomiyaki into pieces, so we took it out of the hot pan and onto our plates quite easily. I grabbed a piece of my slice with my chopsticks, noticing the brown coloring form the soy sauce and the yellow mayonnaise on top. And how could I forget! The shaved/shredded fish on top was moving! The little pieces moved almost like they were being blown away by the wind due to the heat. I took a bite and noticed the sweet mayonnaise and the soy sauce. I also was overcome by the flavor of fish and shrimp. It was pretty delicious and I really enjoyed eating the okonomiyaki. It reminded me of eating a crispy sushi roll…like tempura…just in a flat form. Yum!


Finally, our last stop was Dosa. This is the one and only place that was not Japanese; it is Indian food. The restaurant was quite large and was really fancy. Downstairs was a dining area and the bar, and upstairs (where we sat) was a lot more enclosed and private. Here, we were given the chance to eat masala dosa and chutney with sambar soup. The owner of the restaurant actually came out and described the masala dosa as a fried crepe wrapped around its contents. When I bit into the masala dosa, I immediately felt like I was eating curry, just wrapped up. The potatoes reminded me of eating yellow curry right off the bat, and the sambar soup with the tomato chutney were the perfect things to dip it in. Each one gave the masala dosa a little kick and helped to flavor it even more. It definitely made it seem like I was eating curry in hand held form. The coconut chutney I actually was not too fond of, because it had a little spice to it I didn’t enjoy too much. But other than that, I enjoyed it!


My experience in Japantown was definitely different from the experience in The Mission, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to come here. I definitely feel like I was given the chance to try some traditional Japanese foods, and I feel like I was exposed to the Japanese culture through them. I just wish we could have had some more soups—like traditional ramen and shabu-shabu…and maybe even some senbei (rice crackers). But overall, I enjoyed coming to Japantown because I feel like I learned not only about food, but about the culture as well.

Oh man, I think one of my most memorable kitchen disasters was when I tried to make cinnamon sugar cookies. I was sitting around at home, and I got the sudden urge to bake something. I immediately logged onto the Internet and began to Google different recipes. At first I wanted to make snicker doodles, but since I didn’t have cream of tartar, that one went out the door. So then I reduced down to cinnamon sugar cookies…a recipe I basically had all the ingredients for.

Now let me tell you where I went wrong. I know I know, “Cinnamon sugar cookies”…what could possibly go wrong. Well…I’ll tell you: baking powder vs. baking soda and lack of vanilla extract. I had no idea these would make a difference! But apparently they did. I had the sugar, butter, eggs, flour, cinnamon, salt, sugar, and baking soda, so I figured I had everything—minus the vanilla extract, but I figured the sugar would compensate for the sweetness. WRONG! I needed the vanilla extract and baking POWDER, not SODA. Thinking nothing of it, I continued to bake as is and just used the baking soda instead and skipped the vanilla altogether.

Everything was going just fine and the cookies even ended up smelling delicious when I stuck them into the oven to bake. I checked on them midway through cooking and they started to brown perfectly and they smelled better and better by the minute; a spicy and sweet goodness filled the air! The dough smelled like perfection baking in the oven, making my entire house smell like sweet sugar. It reminded me of a cold winter night, a perfect time to bake cookies, making the kitchen warm from the heat of the oven and the rest of the house warm with the delicious smell of homemade cookies.

After I allowed them to cook all the way, I pulled them out of the oven and sat them on my cooling rack atop the counter. Each cookie looked like it was cooked to perfection, little round mounds topped with cinnamon and sugar, little cracks in the dough as evidence that they are cooked. Once they cooled completely, I reached for a cookie and held it beneath my nose to get a better whiff. Cinnamon sugar filled my nose, stinging my nose with its sweetness and piercing it with its spice.

I then went in for a bite—EW! Oh my goodness! The cookie itself was perfectly crisp around the edges and doughy in the middle, but the taste was awful! All that filled my mouth was a bitter flavor that just engulfed my entire tongue and spread up my cheeks, onto the roof of my mouth, and settled into a disgusting puddle of saliva beneath my tongue. I felt like I just ate a bunch of horseradish or something! I spit it all out into the garbage bin next to me immediately. My family looked at me and I just told them the cookies were awful. I was a bit embarrassed to say so because I really wanted to bake and usually my cookies turn out okay, but these were a complete disaster…thanks to that baking soda. The baking soda and lack of vanilla seemed to make the cookies everything but sweet and just made them absolutely repulsive!

Well, I learned my lesson. Always make sure to have the CORRECT ingredients…otherwise the food will turn out absolutely and completely horrible. Never again will I skip out on vanilla extract and substitute baking soda for powder. What an ordeal!

Check out the recipe I used here ! <–this should result in DELICIOUS cookies if followed step by step.

This is the photo that is used for the recipe. THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO! I OWN NOTHING! Link to the owner below!

This is the photo that is used for the recipe. THIS IS NOT MY PHOTO! I OWN NOTHING! Click the photo to view the photographer’s page!

And if you want to try to recreate my terrible, awful, and disgusting version…try using these ingredients instead:

cinnamon sugar
baking soda



On Thursday, January 10, 2013, my class and I went to The Mission District in San Francisco, CA to go on numerous food tours around it. We got off BART on 24th street, had a few minutes to kind of regroup (get coffee, use the restroom, etc.), and then we started our field trip. We started our trekking around The District by walking to a deli, Wise Sons Delicatessen. There, we were met with our tour guides and split into two groups. My group started at the Wise Sons Deli and was given a little history on the deli. We were informed that it was a Jewish deli and were soon served with samples of a pastrami sandwich, mustard, and a pickle. Now, I’ve had pastrami sandwiches before, but let me tell you…THIS SANDWICH WAS AMAZING! And with the mustard?! Holy cow, I was so surprised and pleasantly satisfied with the mini sandwich that I immediately thought of taking my family there to eat! The pastrami was salty with its perfect amount of grease and oils keeping it moist and perfect. The bread was a soft tan color, spongy and completely absorbing the grease, with a yummy crispy crust with grains (I think). I never would have thought to put mustard on my pastrami sample, but when I did, it was like it gave the sandwich a kick! The bitterness of the yellow mustard combined with the greasy saltiness of the meat was absolutely delicious and left me craving a full-sized sandwich! Just writing about it is making my mouth water… And the crust?! The wonderful crunch at my last bite just topped the whole tasting off perfectly…like a round, shiny, red maraschino cherry atop a three-scoop vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry sundae drizzled with hot fudge, sprinkled with nuts, and sprayed with whipped cream. Perfection…

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Anyways, the next location we went to was Roxy’s. There, the one and only employee and chef greeted us. It was crazy to hear that he ran the entire place on his own, washed the dishes, and cooked the food all by himself! Anyways, the restaurant was quite small and from where we were seated, we could view the kitchen through a glass barrier. While he cooked, he told us that he would be making us one of his own creations, Yucca Gnocchi in a Bolognese Sauce. I immediately thought of a YouTube video I had watched by Laura Vitale, teaching her viewers how her and her Nonna (grandmother) made their own homemade gnocchi. Anyways, after the chef told us about how he came up with new food creations and how he was featured on a television show, he started to divide his creation onto a number of Asian-styled soupspoons. I noticed that he scooped two pieces of gnocchi for each spoon and included as much meat as each spoon allowed. He then followed this by drizzling some Balsamic syrupy concoction (as he referred to it since it was not quite liquid yet not quite solid), sprinkling some Parmesan cheese atop each spoon, and then adding some pieces of freshly cut basil. He then handed the two trays filled with samples to our tour guide who handed out our samples. I retrieved a spoon from the tray and passed the tray along, and I noticed the steam rising from the food. I smelled the meat sauce and noticed the dark coloring of the food. I blew on the food for a few seconds and ate a single gnocchi with a bit of sauce. It was so good! I was surprised at how the gnocchi was so soft yet not too soft that it was chewy. And the Bolognese sauce complimented it perfectly. I went into eat the rest of the sample and I saw that the meat was ground into small pieces and none of it clumped together. The sauce was a deep reddish brown color and was just runny enough that I was able to almost slurp the rest off of the spoon. Again, the gnocchi was absolute perfection and I couldn’t believe how tasteful it was! I would definitely have to say this was my favorite of the day, right along with the pastrami sandwich.

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After eating that yummy concoction, we made our way to Mission Mini’s, where we got to choose a mini cupcake to eat. As soon as I walked in, I saw the cute pink background and the absolutely adorable mini cupcakes in a glass case. The air of the bakery was filled with sugar and sweet goodness, and I was immediately excited to eat one. I chose the Cinnamon Horchata mini cupcake because I love horchatas and the cupcake just sounded amazing. To my pleasure, I was right. The cinnamon flavor of the cupcake was so good and the horchata flavor was just like the milky rice water drink I enjoy ordering when I go to my local taqueria. The cupcake was perfectly moist and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with cinnamon.

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Next we went to the Local Mission Eatery. I noticed that it was a lot bigger than any of the other places we went to, and to the left, I saw through a glass window some pieces of animals dangling by strings (like a pig or cow foot!); to the right was the kitchen; and further back was where the bakery was. We waited around for a bit before we were served with our sample: grilled cheese with caramelized onions and apple butter on a baguette. When I first held the sandwich, I noticed the grease soaking through my napkin and oiling my fingers. Then when I went to take a bite, I was surprised by the crunch of the bread and the potent flavor of the caramelized onions. The cheese was almost undetectable compared to the sweet taste of the onions and the unique flavor of the apple butter. I love my grilled cheese sandwiches, but I would have never thought of using apple butter and adding onions since I’m not a huge fan of onions, but I tolerate them.

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Following our trip to the Local Mission Eatery, we went to look at the murals on Balmy and were led by someone who was associated with Precita Eyes. We walked down the street and were given brief overviews of what inspired each mural and the stories behind them.



It was a nice little break from eating and helped us work up our appetite for the next location: Taqueria El Farolito. Our tour guide informed us that he would not be joining us for our mural tour because he was going to go order us tacos from this taqueria. As soon as I heard tacos, I got excited! I love my Mexican food and it could probably qualify as one of my favorite foods. Once we sat down, our tour guide brought us a cup of horchata to drink! Again, something I love! I took a sip of the drink and automatically noticed how grainy it was. It had that yummy rice flavor and hint of cinnamon, and that grainy texture added to its authentic feel. Next, we were given our taco and I was amazed at how appetizing it looked! The taco was on layered soft tortillas and had pieces of pork on top, covered in a mildly spicy orange sauce with vegetables sprinkled and spread on top. I picked up the taco, folded it in half, and bit into it. I felt the hot sauce and oils running in my mouth and dripping down my fingers, and the potent flavor of the sauce exploded in my mouth. The pork was absolutely cooked to perfection, soft with a bit of charring on the outside giving it that perfect texture, and the sauce was impeccably spiced to give it a little kick. And the horchata just added to the experience, offering me something to help reduce the spiciness, haha.

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After eating here, we made our way to Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. The place looked extremely cute and looked like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Inside, however, it was totally different. On one wall was a two-headed calf, on another was a crazy-looking painting, and on the next was a painting of Campbell’s soup cans with flavors like “Fetal Kitten”! **what the heck?!** Anyways, as we were told to not be afraid to try samples of everything before we ordered our sample scoop, I couldn’t help but notice the crazy flavors: Mulled Wine, Chocolate Sea Salt, Basil Lime, Honey Graham something, and all kinds of other things you wouldn’t expect to be an ice cream flavor. I started trying samples and the first I tried was the Honey Graham one. Immediately off the bat I was overwhelmed by the potency of the honey and felt my face form a disgusted look. Next I tried the Mulled Wine, and again, my face scrunched up at the bitter flavor of the red wine following the sweet taste of sugar. After, I tried a bit of my friend’s sample of the Chocolate Sea Salt, and honestly, I thought I was going to spit it back out. The salt was so intense that I couldn’t even sense any other flavors! I was pretty disgusted and that just completely threw me off. But, finally, I decided on the Basil Lime Sorbet. Even that was so intensely tart that I couldn’t finish it. I felt awful about tossing it, but the intensity of the lime was just too sour and I couldn’t bear to eat all of it. I would honestly have to say I probably wouldn’t be going back there for a dessert scoop of ice cream…

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Our final stop was Pig & Pie. This particular restaurant sign was unique because the current owners decided not to get rid of the old Discolandia sign, and instead just added on to it with their own. The restaurant was quite large and walking in, the aroma of barbeque sauce filled my nose. We were led to the back of the restaurant and waited next to the kitchen. Our tour guide spoke with one of the chef’s and we were soon given out sample. We were given a pork sausage that contained some veal and back fat, topped with sauerkraut and mustard. The chef told us they made the yellow mustard themselves and pickled their own sauerkraut. As soon as I bit into my sausage, I noticed the crunchiness of the bread and was immediately taken aback by the mustard. The mustard was powerful in that my mouth almost went dry, my throat hurt, and my sinuses cleared…I felt like I just ate a spoonful of wasabi! When I bit into the sausage, I felt the oils spilling out of the soft exterior and the flavors of salt and pepper filled my mouth. The sauerkraut didn’t bother me much, and I find that I actually like sauerkraut. It was pickled very well and added a good flavor to the sausage. But man! That mustard was crazy…crazy in a good way. I liked the flavor it gave, but I was just shocked at how strong it was!

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Overall, I really enjoyed this field trip to The Mission District and am highly considering going back to Wise Sons and Roxy’s one day with my family for lunch. Those two were my favorite places and I just really want more of their food!

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