I landed in San Francisco on Friday evening, took the BART from the airport, got off at Embarcardero. In the early evening San Francisco light, I took my luggage and walked down Broadway to Columbus Avenue. At Broadway and Columbus, I could see City Lights Bookstore, the world's greatest Beat landmark and in the distance, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Coit Tower.
Headed up Columbus, looking in North Beach Italian restaurants, coffeehouses along the way, where I stopped to have a plate of eggplant lasagna and a glass of house wine in a beautiful Italian eatery, with waiters chattering in Italian all around.
The next morning, off to Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The crowds were there, the vendors were out in force and I stood for a minute looking at the Bay Bridge in the distance, watching shoppers with bags of everything, and thought: I can't leave this.
It was too much, all of the beauty and the fullness of life in a city that is thriving and...
I literally couldn't imagine-for those minutes- leaving. I was overcome by it all, and suddenly tired, so tired of life in a FEMA trailer and hard work ahead still.
I slowly walked back to the Knolls Farm stand, looking at people, the view out over the bay...
Then, I saw Poppy Tooker, our New Orleans Slow Food Leader who was my working partner on this trip (to set up White Boot Brigade events for our shrimpers); Poppy was our food leader in New Orleans, our exhorter and, suddenly, I was very glad to see her.
Because I remembered why I lived in New Orleans still and always; people like Poppy, Richard, my neighbors Musa and Veda (hard at work on our new homes) and my parents and grandparents who gave me my own culture, who have worked non-stop since the storm to keep it alive.
I am lucky to be able to tell the world about our food culture, work to save it by bringing it to our exiled New Orleanians and to our fans around the country.
Offering (sought after) Mardi Gras shrimp beads and our stories and ideas to happy interested faces at Williams-Sonoma, Google, Chez Panisse, among others all week, I kept thinking, this is because you are from New Orleans; this is because you share a special world.
Sharing champagne with Fish Restaurant owners Kenny and Whitney in Sausalito with Slow Food leaders who raised 13,000 for our efforts and gave us the check as we laughed, ate and talked on a picnic table overlooking the bay, I thought:
We're so lucky.
I can't wait to go home.