Monday, September 28, 2009

Shine On

Dear No One in Particular,

When I saw this image, I became so enraged I needed to look at videos of puppies in order to calm down.

Let me tell you why this pisses me right the fuck off:

First of all, it's total nonsense. Why wouldn't inner beauty shine through make-up? Is there something in my foundation that blocks my winning personality? Does my eye liner act as a barrier for my charm? Because I am pretty fucking charming.

No, if you were truly beautiful on the inside, there would be no impediment to that coming through. Clothing, hairstyle, the dreaded makeup -- these things can not stop you from being the incredible person you are.
Really, if anyone says differently, it's because they're the asshole -- not you. Anyone who takes one look at you and dismisses you based on your looks is a Judgey McDouchebag and you're luckier for not having more of them in your life. Fuck them. You never would have been able to please them, anyway.

Second of all, how passive-aggressive is this mantra? It decides that in order to convince other people that you are, in fact, nice and worth their time you must wear your face bare, but it dispenses these pearls of wisdom in the snottiest, most condescending way possible. Stop smearing the pancake makeup on, Bozo; you're a nice enough person on the inside.

Third of all, it labours under the misapprehension that most women wear makeup because they feel ugly. Or because they have something to prove. Or because they care about what other people -- read men -- think about their personal appearance.
Let me clear this up right now: I do not wear makeup for you. I do not wear makeup to look pretty for my boyfriend, nor do I wear it in order to please anyone else. I wear makeup to please myself. And let me assure you, person who thinks this idiotic phrase is the wisest thing since Ghandi, most women do the same.

I take pride in my makeup, mostly because putting on a good face requires skill. It's an art, painting on the face. Don't believe me? Hit up a good drag bar and try to tell me different. Hairy dudes that can cover up a 5 0'clock shadow that looks like a 3 day growth and still look more fabulous than me? Artists. This chick? Artist (and a modern-day makeup Cinderella, I might add).
Naturally, I love when people compliment my purple eyeliner or the shade of lipstick I'm rocking. It feels nice to be complimented; it does not mean I'm slathering eyeshadow on in hopes of pleasing some random nobody.

I feel like I must point how how totally patronising this sentiment is. This is a graphic done by a man, obviously in hopes of making women feel bad about themselves so they might conform to his standards of beauty.

Fuck. That. Shit.

I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of being told that I'm not beautiful because I'm wearing makeup. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm not wearing makeup. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm not a size 2. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because my hips are large. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because my hair is curly. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I've straightened my hair. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm wearing a red shirt. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm wearing a blue shirt. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because my eyes are large. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm short. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because my skin is tan. I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because my skin is not tan enough.

I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I can not please you.

I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful because I'm a woman and you're a man and your opinion counts for more than mine.

I'm tired of being told I'm not beautiful.

I'm tired of being tired, and I'm tired of reading crap like this.

Inner beauty can shine through anything: through makeup, through outdated clothing that doesn't fit right, through an unflattering hairstyle. Through crooked teeth, through wide hips and narrow hips, through muscle, through fat, through bones. Through fair skin, through dark skin, through purple skin. Through scars, physical and invisible. Inner beauty can shine even through the neverending darkness of death.

Put on makeup. Wear a baggy sweater. Don't comb your hair. Show off your tattoos. Wear a bikini -- your body is ready for it.

You are beautiful no matter what you put on the outside.
Your smile outshines the sun. Your laughter is the sweetest music. You glow with an inner light, and only you can dampen it. Share your beauty with the world.

You're beautiful.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Eat Challenge -- 2 for 1

Dear No One in Particular,

I've always been a little intimidated by the Ferry Building; there are so many delicious, interesting-looking restaurants nestled under its glass and steel arches -- not to mention the bustling, legendary Farmer's Market on the sidewalk outside -- that I get overwhelmed and end up leaving for more familiar territory.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to bite the bullet and sink my teeth into some delicious food from the Ferry Building.

#40: cheeseburger from Taylor's Automatic Refresher:
I can't remember where I first heard of Taylor's Automatic Refresher, but after a cursory glance at their yelp page, decided I was, in fact, in the mood for a gourmet burger.

I'm really more of a patty melt girl, so I opted for the patty melt over the top 100 list making cheeseburger. The jury's still out on whether or not this was a wise decision. Then again, I'm just looking for any excuse to visit again.
In addition to the patty melt, I demanded an order of sweet potato fries and an espresso shake. I was stupid enough to be starving when I visited Taylor's, which is a lot like volunteering to have my fingernails pulled out. I'm such a slave to my hunger, it's ridiculous.

I sat at my table, inhaling the splendorous scent of their garlic fries. I began to worry that I picked the wrong side. Then I began to wonder if I could kill the couple who so disrespectfully ordered the garlic fries, but didn't eat them. I'm 99% sure I could have gotten off with minimal jail time.

As soon as my order came up, I grabbed a fistful of the gorgeous, bright orange sweet potato wedges and crammed them into my mouth. At that moment, I reached nirvana. Heavenly choirs sang hallelujah and the sun danced in the sky.

You guys, Taylor's sweet potato fries are THAT GOOD. They somehow lack the starchiness of regular fries, and are seasoned perfectly. Per. Fect. Ly. The slight heat of the chili powder, coupled with the light dusting of regular ol' salt and pepper cuts through the gentle sweetness, creating a symphony in my mouth. If I had ordered nothing else, I would have been so happy with Taylor's I would have run through the Ferry Building singing its praises.

The patty melt was more than a bit disappointing. To be fair, I was so hungry, I barely tasted the first couple of bites. They use a nice dark rye bread, which is a welcome change from the usual light rye. The burger itself is obviously of good quality, but it's sadly overshadowed by the liberally applied condiments. There is way too much mayo and mustard on the damn burger. Granted, I hate mustard, and truly believe the spice and tang of the rye is more than sufficient to cut the fatty goodness of the Swiss cheese and beef. Still -- they overpowered the yummy dead cow, which knocks it down a peg in my book. The meat should sing in a burger, not the sauces.

The shake was equally disappointing. It was made wayyy before the rest of the meal ( I know because I was sitting near the end of the bar and watched it being made) so it melted and became a runny mess, rendering it no more than melted ice cream. Tasty melted ice cream, but not a shake.

Overall, it was a decent meal. Sure, the burger fell short, and the shake was laughable, but those fries -- THOSE FRIES -- were delicious enough to forgive puppy kicking. My biggest issue with Taylor's is the overinflated prices. Maybe if everything was perfect spending $20 on a burger, fries, and shake would be worth the cash, but not if my meal was the best they could offer.

The sweet potato fries, though. They were miraculous.

#49 -- ginger snaps at Miette
Miette is somewhat legendary in the confection/baking world. Bakers and major sweet teeth make pilgrimages to the adorable bake shop in search of their notoriously delightful cupcakes. Or so I've heard. I don't think I've ever had one of their cupcakes. I'm a snob, you see.

Anyhoodle, I was a little surprised to see their ginger snaps as the list-maker over their more well-known cupcakes or macarons, but I jumped at the chance to try a new ginger cookie. I love ginger confections, and ginger snaps are some of my favourite cookies.

"Adorable" is the best way to describe Miette. Everything, right down to their shopping bags, is tooth-achingly darling. I didn't get any photos of their Ferry Building location, but it's a nice French girl respite from the stark architechture that predominates.

The ginger snaps were ... well, there's a reason their cakes are more famous. That's the kindest way I can put it.
The cookies, despite looking lovely, were disgustingly stale. They lacked anything resembling the "snap" necessary to make a good ginger snap. They had a strange bite; soft, yet tough and chewy. I took a bite and had to chew for a good 5 minutes. My jaw was aching so bad I couldn't get through an entire cookie.

I made the Boy try one, and I wish I had taken a picture of his expression. His entire review: "Ew. God, ew. No." A couple days later, he informed me that they made impressive Frisbees.

But! I am no fool. I was wary of the ginger snaps, and had heard incredible things about Miette's macarons. I snapped up a classic raspberry for the Boy and a chocolate-lavender for me.

Let me tell you, the macarons should be on the Big Eat list, not the ginger snaps. They were the most perfect macarons I've ever eaten. The meringue had a slight crunch, yielding to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth fudge/jam centre.

The raspberry tasted true to the berry, without being overly jammy or sweet. The chocolate was a study in unfolding flavours: the fudge melted across the palate, giving way to a gentle lavender flavour, which, miraculously, didn't taste a bit like soap.

I could have eaten a million of them.

While the actual entries on the Big Eat Challenge fell short of my expectations, they pushed me in the direction of some really great food. If the rest of the challenge continues in this way, I'm going to be very fat. Very happy, but also very, very fat.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Big Eat Challenge

Dear No One in Particular,

I have long established that I am a foodie of the highest order.

Once upon a time, I thought about starting a food blog of my very own, but decided that a) try as I might, I am not nearly pretentious enough and b) I am too picky an eater for most food snobs to take me seriously.
To be fair, I will try just about anything twice. I came up with the theory that it takes two bites (or sips) to get the true measure of a dish (or drink). If it's still gross beyond that, then I can refuse to eat it ever again.
This theory has gotten me pretty far and added some interesting dishes to my love/hate lists. Pork blood stew? YUM. Barbecued chicken intestine? Meh; a little too chewy. Wasabi? DO NOT WANT.
Naturally, there are somethings I absolutely refuse to eat under most circumstances. I very rarely eat fish or pork. I refuse to eat any melon or cherry, and mashed potatoes make me gag. Seriously, just thinking about them makes me dry heave. I hate pickles and their slightly-less-evil kissing-cousin, the cucumber. Beyond that: what's for dinner?

Luckily, I live in the gastronomic capital of the universe, so I can happily entertain my taste buds whenever a craving strikes. Given my intense love of food and of the Bay Area, you can imagine my total delight at finding the 7x7 list of 100 Things to Try Before You Die, San Francisco edition.

I had been knocking around the idea of adding a weekly foodie feature here on Blog for No One, but didn't know exactly what it would entail. Now, thanks to 7x7, I do. I'm going to eat my way through the list, blogging as I go. Very Julie/Julia, only with more eating and less dish washing.
I've eaten quite a few things on the list already (soup dumplings, spring rolls, prime rib -- tangent: I had my 21st birthday dinner at the House of Prime Rib and got spectacularly drunk on lemon drop martinis), but I'm going to start with a clean slate to better aid the blogging. I also reserve the right to switch up menu items, so long as they maintain the spirit of the original recommendation; I don't eat pork, so I'll be trying the carne asada tacos at La Taqueria, I'm more interested in Humphry Slocombe than Bi-Rite, etc.

I technically started this challege 2 weeks ago with a quick trip to the Ferry Building, but I think I'll save that for a later post. Like the Julie/Julia project, this will most strongly impact my wallet and my waistline. Unlike the Julie/Julia project, I will keep whining to a minimum and not regale you with tales of visits to my gynecologist's office.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A True Story

This is the story of a little yellow sweater.

Handmade, obviously done by an amateur, it seems relatively ordinary. There are, no doubt, hundreds of little yellow sweaters being knit every day by hundreds of kind aunts, mothers, and grandmothers for hundreds of little girls. Hundreds of little yellow sweaters, each bearing hundreds of mistakes and dropped stitches that make them stand apart in the sea of sun-coloured yarn.

This little yellow sweater, with its mis-matched white bands on the arms, rough hem, and missing buttons, was never completed. To finish that hem, to add the missing buttons would be a disservice to the story of the little yellow sweater -- but we must start that story at the beginning.

The story of the little yellow sweater begins almost exactly 20 years ago in a City by the Sea, in an apartment at the edge of the City.
A kind aunt decided to make the little yellow sweater for a favourite niece, presumably as a Christmas present. I can only guess as to her feelings and thoughts, but perhaps she was pleased with herself for completing the little yellow sweater so quickly. It was only October; Christmas was months away. All that was left was to fix up the hem and add some buttons. Maybe, if there was time, she could still re-knit the right sleeve. Maybe; I can only guess.

Any theoretical plans she may have had for the little yellow sweater, any dreams she may have had about her niece wearing it were crushed, buried under a pile of rubble as the earth began to shake and sidewalks erupted, as bridges collapsed and buildings folded like houses made of cards.

The apartment at the edge of the City was located in perhaps the worst neighbourhood for earthquakes. Buildings were built on top of nothing more than sand and water; when the ground began to roll, homes -- including the apartment in which the little yellow sweater was made -- crumbled to the ground.

Everything was lost. Everything was destroyed.

Some were lucky: they lost only material possessions.
Some were not so lucky: they lost lives, loved ones.

The kind aunt was lucky; she was not permanently hurt, and neither were her two little boys. Everything they owned was buried under piles of rubble; most of their possessions were burnt to ashes. But they were lucky: they survived.

The kind aunt visited what was left of the apartment at the edge of the City often, hoping something might be yet be salvaged. Sometimes friends came with her, so she wouldn't have to face the heartbreak of staring at the ruins of her life alone.

One day, while standing at the police barricades separating her from what used to be the apartment at the edge of the City, the kind aunt experienced a minor miracle.
Standing shoulder to shoulder with a friend (who was really more like a sister), staring out at the wreckage, the kind aunt spotted a bright spot at the corner of what used to be her block.

Gasping, she flagged down a firefighter. Breathlessly, she pointed out the bright spot:
"That's mine!" she cried. "That little yellow sweater! I made it for her daughter", she explained, motioning to her friend (who was really more like a sister).
The firefighter, understanding what it meant to have something personal pulled from the ruins, dug through the mess and pulled out the little yellow sweater.
The kind aunt held it in her hands for a moment. "I made this for Amanda", she said, even though the gift didn't require any explanation. She handed it over to her friend (who was really more like a sister). "I didn't get to finish it."

The little yellow sweater was the only thing to be saved from the remnants of the apartment at the edge of the City.