Durian Days and Tasty Ways

The Good, the Bad and the Durian IN PAMPANGA, a small Philippine town, I was traveling to Olongapo City from Manila. I was hungry and had walked into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, the kind that has a counter for about three and seats for two. The proprietor spoke no English, but I spoke enough Tagalog to say something like, “Give me your best.” He brought me a steaming bowl of something that looked like river bottom mud, the kind that... Read More

Sinh To, the Smoothie

There was one bright candle in the dark night of the gastronomic Bad Old Days before the mid 1990s. A little beacon of cool relief that you could count on finding at any given street corner or roadside rest any time of day or night. It was the most beguiling combination of Vietnamese artifice and natural goodness: the fruit smoothie, known here as sinh to. Now I’m not talking about the smoothies you get in the States in some coffee-cum-juice... Read More

San Francisco Noir: Wandering the City’s Night

Aunt Charlie’s Around the glitzy tourist hotels and fancy eateries of downtown San Francisco the Tenderloin district wraps itself. This smarmy sea laps up against the shores and flows into the bays and inlets of the central city wherever high priced real estate is lacking. Its currents run round the islands of prosperity and its waves slam smack into the breakwaters of Hilton and Renaissance. From the towers of those two hotels you can... Read More