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the sea, the sky, and the way the trees bend in the wind

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16 November 2007

the sea, the sky, and the way the trees bend in the wind

the last of the tomatoes

This gluten-free, book-touring life has been incredible: surreal, exhausting, pouring out love, filled with hilarious stories, and certainly full of good meals. I
have been in four different cities in four weeks, with three or four events in each city. The Chef and I returned from the Bay Area on Tuesday afternoon, and then I
taught a cooking class almost immediately after we landed. Whew. I'm grateful for it all. I'm grateful for the chance to meet so many of you, to celebrate with a glass of wine in hand (or be handed a bottle of wine from Sonoma County, as Jennifer did a few days ago), to hear how much the book means to you, and mostly to hear your stories.

The last few weeks have felt like one big gluten-free party.

You know that feeling the morning after the best dinner party you've ever thrown? Dishes all over the counters, memories clinging to different parts of your brain, the back of your eyes a bit sore because you stayed up too late having fabulous conversations with friends?

Yes. Like that.

I could craft stories of gluten-free hijinks and intimate gatherings in San Francisco. But you know what? I've been trying for days. And I'm not sure I have it in me right now.

Instead, I want to share some photos and fleeting phrases with you. This is inspired by something the Chef said to me, late one night, in bed, at our friend Tea's house. We were debriefing on the day, talking about our favorite moments, as we usually do. He, Tea, Shuna, and I had eaten a great meal at Oliveto - the best bitter chicory salad I have ever eaten - and jabbered all evening about blogs, books, and great food. The Chef enjoyed it. But the blogging conversation (site meters, snarky commentors, blocking ip addresses, and the strange sense of intimacy that unfolds on these virtual pages) was not spoken in his language.

When bloggers get together, we speak cryptic moon man, mostly.

The Chef whispered to me, his face next to mine: "You know, sometimes I even get tired of talking about food. I mean, why can't we talk about the sea, and sky, and the way the trees bend in the wind?"

I looked at him in the darkness and said, "Hey, you want to marry me?"

He grinned. "I already did."

"Oh yeah," I said. "That's right."

walking toward the ocean

And so, I want to bring you sea

crow flying over Mt

and sky

Golden Gate Park

and the way the trees bend in the wind.

the pepto Bismol building

San Francisco sports a lot of pastel houses.

roast pork stand at the farmers' market

And a chaotic, filled-to-the-brim farmers' market that has a roast pork stand. (Plus, June Taylor stands behind her jams, laid out on a table. I love her.)

in Golden Gate park

Golden Gate Park has plenty of places for contemplation.

rolling down the hill at Golden Gate Park

And excellent little hills for rolling down, spontaneously. (Thanks for the suggestion, Tea!)

jicama-grapefruit salad

Singular-tasting, great gluten-free food is easy to find. (This is a jicama-grapefruit salad with avocadoes, at a little Mexican taqueria.)

pizza at Mariposa

Including gluten-free pizza, just out of the oven. (This is from Mariposa Bakery. They serve it in their cafe.)

rice noodle salad

And slippery, thick rice noodles in an intoxicating sauce, a dish so warm and pappy that it feels like comfort food, even if you have never eaten these spices. (This is from Burma Superstar. Go there. Ask for everything without soy sauce, in a clean wok. Then, sit back and sigh.)

the Chef enjoys his sandwich at the farmers'  market

Even if you can't eat gluten, it's hard not to delight in the sight of the Chef so enjoying that chorizo sandwich.

the best hot chocolate I have ever had

Besides, if you miss the gluten, you won't remember it later, when you eat dinner at Sens, and Shuna sends out such a barrage of glorious, gluten-free desserts (the best sweets you have ever eaten, in your entire life, like this hot chocolate with a homemade honey marshmallow)that you toddle back to the tram with your friends in a food coma, your belly so full you feel the sky could never hold it all.

You will remember this forever.

this breakfast was so much better than it looks

You think you'll never be hungry again after a meal like that. But then the Chef wakes up, makes breakfast, and comes out holding plates of this. Scrambled eggs with butter, crepinettes from the Fatted Calf (pork sausages with pine nuts and currants, covered in caul fat), and roast potatoes with fresh-roasted peppers.

You find room in your stomach.

on the road, northern California

Find a way to drive out of the city, past the Golden Gate bridge, to Marin.

on top of Mt

Stand on top of Mt. Tam with your dear ones.

Cowgirl Creamery cheese

Be sure to stop at Cowgirl Creamery on your way to the beach. (The Chef and I fed each other Mt. Tam as part of our wedding ceremony. We had no choice but to buy some while we were there.)

on the bay

Drive to where the land meets the water.

shucking oysters on the beach

And be sure to stop at Hog Island oysters, where you can buy a dozen on a brown plastic tray, and shuck them by the ocean. (It's lovely when the Chef volunteers.)


Have a picnic, right on the lapping water, the briny air mixing with the oysters on your tongue, the cold along your fingers making you huddle into each other. This is the best way to be gluten-free.

peeling the persimmon

And when you have a friend like Tea, she remembers everything. Including two ripe persimmons. I had never eaten persimmons before this day. Their fleshy sensuality sopping down my throat made me long for more.

fig and ginger chutney on cheese

Finish the most memorable meal of the Bay Area - even after eating safely and beautifully at Zuni Cafe, one of the meals of your dreams - with a last bite of fig and ginger chutney, on Humboldt Fog cheese, and a gluten-free cracker. Salute the sky with your fingers.

sunset over the ocean

Hold your husband as you look out over the water, just before the light fades away. Say thank you to your dear friend, for bringing you here. For being part of your life.

And hold all these moments within you, tucked away, knowing they have changed you, knowing you will never be able to capture them into words. Let go of even trying.

(thank you to the Chef for taking most of these photos. That boy can do anything.)


At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i finished your book last night, down in alabama. today, i'm visiting my brother in st. louis, and we happened to eat out at an ethiopian restaurant. and i finally experienced the injera bread and sauteed cabbage and fenugreek. and i thank you for giving me the inspiration and courage to expand my gluten-free (and cultural) horizons, to try something new and different and wonderful. keep on exploring, shauna, and please keep inspiring others to do the same. thanks for sharing your passions with the world...!

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

total lovely perfection

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Kath said...

So beautiful!

At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got your book today in the mail. My mom has Celiac's and I am suspicious I might as well. I had been feeling quite yucky many similar symptoms especially as I have gotten older. So,for the past few months I have been experimentally been living gluten free. I have never felt so good. I probably should get tested, but am going to keep at this until after the first of the year. I think you have to be consuming wheat and gluten for the test to be accurate, right? I can't wait to read the rest of your book. Thank you for sharing your insight, experience and life. I look forward to reading the rest of the book.
Blessings, Amy

At 2:23 AM, Blogger Naomi Devlin said...

Shauna, you make me want to rush to California right now! I hope you get some time to yourself too in all this whirlwind of book touring.

I'm almost finished the book and I have found it so inspiring. Your enthusiasm for anything new has reminded me to get out there and buy up all those grains I never tasted.

I tried a persimmon and a custard apple myself for the first time the other day and felt the world opening up before me. Its so easy to let it close down into what you can and can't eat. You - you make it open up again for me and I always come away from your site breathing a happy sigh of celebration for food and life and good writing.

x x x

At 2:32 AM, Blogger chris said...

Thanks for the photos--I spent my childhood there and those mountains always remind me of that time. Details on Zuni Cafe to follow, please?

At 5:19 AM, Blogger madre-terra said...

Thanks from me to the chef for such great photos!
Glad to hear you had a wonderful time. Your life is so expansive it's a wonder!

At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely essay! And photos. It was fun getting to meet you both briefly (in person!) here in SF. I am amazed you are not totally exhausted by your touring schedule, but I guess precious moments like these are restorative, and should be treasured wherever you find them.

My neighbor gave me a big bag of persimmons last night, and I was musing with her that I was amazed it had taken me until my late 30's to discover them. They are the perfect fall food, and I look forward to them every year.

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Tay said...

I'm so glad you are back, I could cry...wait, I am crying! Such a lovely, loving post.

Thanks for sharing your beauty with us, Shauna. You amaze me.

At 8:01 AM, Blogger Zoomie said...

I really love your Chef even though I've only met him once at Molly's wedding and, even then, it was brief. He has his head screwed on right.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger evil cake lady said...

WOW this post made me miss my homeland SOOOO much. thank you both for capturing the beauty of the bay area!!

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful those pictures are...good job Chef....I am definitely going to get your book. Won't you consider coming to our first Palm Beach Celiac Support Group Vendor Fair to share your book? It's Feb. 3rd and I'd love to tell you more. You'd have a whole new audience!
Thanks for your peaceful outlook on life!

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Tree said...

Aww! I'm about to move AWAY from the Bay Area, and your beautiful post pretty much summarizes all the things I will miss about it.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger loverstreet said...

i love this post. thanks for finding the beauty in such a huge, bustling city.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Whimsy Valentine said...

oh shauna, please tell us lonely LA readers where we can come and get you sign our books when you are here in la-la land!! personally i'll be purchasing two, one for me and one for my celiac mom who's now as hooked on your blog as i am!! i'm looking forward to making your GF stuffing for my wheat-free husband next thursday too!
see you in la!!

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Sheri said...

Wow - so many wonderful pictures! The Chef certainly has another talent. And I would like to know if you loan him out to give pointers to other husbands, because The Man could sure use some tutoring in how to treat his woman! LOL

At 5:31 PM, Blogger terry said...

i was so glad the sun came out on sunday, for your trip to point reyes.

love these gorgeous photos of so many places i know so well!

see you next time.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've been a long-time reader of the blog and it was so much fun to see familiar places and names in this post. My son and I are HUGE fans of Cowgirl Creamery Cheese (he may be the only 11 year old on their mailing list!) with fig jam... so happy you discovered it too.

Gluten-free and living large on the North Coast of California...

At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

Serendipity brought me to your page (I saw the book first, in our local Chapters bookstore, and was hooked). I am able to eat gluten, but often forgo it anyway as gluten-free is usually healthier and I love eating and experimenting with all the GF grains.

I'm a blogging newbie who's been lurking for a while without commenting, but just had to write something after today's wonderful entry. I admire and enjoy your blog, and so appreciate the way you (seemingly effortlessly) capture the magic of food and friends and relationships (and I'm totally envious of your photography skills, as I am useless in that area!).

This post is beautiful, and very inspiring. Congratulations on your amazing achievement here and with your book. It's such a pleasure to read these well crafted entries about your adventures and ongoing love affair with the Chef. You've brought San Francisco to life for this Canadian. Thanks, and I look forward to continuing to read and learn! (PS Aren't persimmons AWESOME?).

At 6:38 AM, Blogger DweezelJazz said...

I always look forward to and enjoy your posts immensely. Thank you

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Sara said...

You have captured the beauty of the Bay Area in your words and photos. Thank you so much for making SF one of your stops on your hectic tour. It was inspiring to meet both you and the chef at the Crave Bakery party. I will always remember everyone sharing their favorite gluten free foods. Thank you.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

Thank you for reminding all of us here who have to eat gluten free that life, and eating can still be enjoyable! I just got your book in the mail and can't wait to read it after enjoying your blog since the beginning. Thank you!

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered your book on a shelf at a Barnes and Noble in Baltimore, Maryland and came home to read your blog. I'm typically a lurker, not a commenter. But I felt compelled to comment -- to thank you, as well as to express a hope that you will make a visit to this part of the world. (Perhaps in conjuntion with U Maryland Celiac Research Center?) Thanks, again. Your book has made it to my Christmas wish list.

At 11:37 PM, Blogger a kelly said...

Dear Shauna and Chef,
The way you describe and photograph food...and life...lifts us to new levels of appreciation and enjoyment. It is always a treat, like a sweet visit your blog.

At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - I live in CA and you make me want your California far more than the one I experience. Thank you for every word. So fantastic! So beautiful!

At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful, moutwatering report. I look over here occasionally, having been introduced to glutenfree by Ilva at Lucullian who linked your website. Thanks for your recipes.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the pictures are beautiful, they make me feel very calm. I miss the coast and sitting by the Golden Gate watching the ships. I haven't been there since I was diagnosed. Nice to know where I can eat when I do go.
Thanks for your wonderful words and inspiration for all those with and without Celiac.

At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You made my city look so wonderful. You captured the non-touristy beautifulness that I wish all visitors could find! I am so glad that San Francisco welcomed you with open arms and made you feel happy and healthy!

At 10:48 AM, Blogger charlotte s said...

Dear Shauna,
I'm so glad you're enjoying your book tour! I just bought your book, and received it in the mail today- and although I don't have Celiac's- I love your enthusiasm and the way you explore such a variety of foods. Thanks for a gorgeous and inspiring book! I wish you the best of luck!

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been gluten free since March, though not very inspired about it, until I read your book. Now I have reason for optimism -- I have been diving into your recipes and inventing some of my own.

Years of undiagnosed celiac have left me unable to handle many foods like potato and dairy.

Question: Is there a good substitute for potato starch? I tried arrowroot starch in the sourghum bread recipe, but it did not work well. The dough was like liquid.

I now suspect that all 4 of my children have celiac too. We just had a gluten free weekend and I noticed some positive changes -- so did they. Three are teenagers, so the decision to eat gluten free has to be their own, but now we have inspiration to be creative with cooking. My daughter loves to cook and already is setting her sights on improving the gluten free food world.

Thank you for your positive outlook!

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Linda said...

Thank you so much for creating such a lovely community. You've inspired me to stay gluten-free even on the hardest of days.

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

is that jicama salad from la calaca loca?

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Shauna said...

Thank you, everyone. Your comments are so lovely. I wish that I could answer them all individually, but I've been struck with a pernicious infection since i put up this post. (Who said I'm not run down after all this traveling? oh, but I am!) I'm on the road to recovery, but I used all my energy putting up the next piece.

But the Chef and I have been reading the comments, and remarking on them. He's particularly happy that you liked his photographs.

And Zoomie? Oh boy, do i agree. That boy has his head screwed on straight!

At 2:58 PM, Blogger sarah said...

I'm new here, and thoroughly enjoying your blog.
You captured the Bay Area perfectly, and made me homesick.
Thank you for sharing your gift with words with all of us!

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Lucia Hawley said...

I've happened upon your blog a few times now--I shouldn't (but oh, I slip up here and there) eat gluten, and try my darndest to be strict after said slipups. It is so refreshing to see how beautiful you make food again! Thanks for the inspiration... and I may have to go make some marshmallows, from scratch!


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