Every second and fourth Wednesday night of the month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau hosts Dinner with Dave at Memphis at the Santora, where he treats drinkers to a free meal and live music as the evening progresses. To remind ustedes of this great night, Dave treats us every Wednesday morning that he's on to a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!
My quiet little corner of North SanTana is exactly that: sleepy single-family homes and no bullshit. There's a grab bag of imports and cranky gabachos, possibly a pocho or two thrown in as well. The one thing we have in common, however, is that we are all trying desperately to convince ourselves we really reside in Tustin.
Our house is humble by OC standards but wifey and I love it. In the never-ending effort for us white folk to be “out Mad Men-ing” each other (even though we and our fellow lovers of all things retro were doing it long before Mad Men), we purchased a nice atomic ranch with lots of glass and a pool. The house is possibly better suited for the year-round heat of Palm Springs but it's a dream during the summer. It was a bank repo—saying it was thrashed would be a gross understatement. On the punch list was getting the exterior painted, which we recently did.
We got together with the central Orange County hipster elite to pick some colors, various medium browns (Bristle Grass), mustards (Golden Cricket) and avocados (Tate Olive). The guy that did our house, Manuel, is the best. Affordable, on time and top notch work. (Seriously, hit me here for his number.) He and his crew were wrapping out four hours of painting the eaves when I got a panicked phone call from wifey. Apparently the shade of avocado-lime (Fossil Butte) under the eaves was just a bit too dark and didn't stand out enough from our medium avocado brown (Woven Basket) trim. From the tone of her voice, you would have thought a busload of school children got attacked by a throng of axe-wielding goblins riding a pack of rabid werewolves right in front of our house.
Truth be told, it was enough to panic even me so I headed home. There, we convened with our hipster friends once again, pouring over paint swatches like Florida vote counters picking through hanging chads. Meanwhile, our painter was on hold while we chose some potential colors and I prepared to go tearing off to Home Depot for more paint samples. Right before I left, I had a little chat with Manuel.
“I'm really sorry Manuel, I gotta get some different paint for the eaves.”
He looked at me, the eaves he had just painted and back at me.
“See, this green really isn't green enough. It needs to be have a blue cast instead of a yellow and there is a bit too much brown in it.”
I don't know if I sounded or looked as desperate to explain as I really was, but I really was at a loss for words.
“I know Manuel, I know! White people are crazy! I'm sorry! (That part I said to him in my broken Spanglish).
After a moment he said to me (in Spanish,) “I know you are all crazy, it's okay.”
I know we're nuts, Manuel knows we're nuts and you gotta know our kind of crazy isn't just about the color of our eaves, Hybrid cars, the whole Sausalito thing (both the cookie and the city), laughing at our own jokes or naming our kids Ethan.
White people are particularly crazy about food—the shit we do is quirky at best (tater tots), bizarre at worst (kombucha). And it's a scientific fact that if it weren't for us gabachos, Outback Steakhouse wouldn't exist. Here are my top picks on our fabulous food freak show list.
1. Buy High-End Custom Meals for their Pets
This one is really embarrassing. It's our responsibility to provide a safe, comfortable environment for our pets, but there is a line. That line is crossed when we spend copious amounts of money on vegan, hypoallergenic, certified Oregon tilth organic meals for our pets. That doesn't mean we should feed them “Old Roy,” Wal-Mart's canine equivalent of Jack in the Box. But the good stuff from Pet Smart is just fine. Plus, when we are not around, Muff-Muff, our prize Pomeranian is eating his or her own poop. Additionally, the money we
individually spend in a month on this movable pet feast could feed a village in
Afghanistan for a year. If that doesn't keep us awake at night it should.
2. Eat Crappy Tortillas
This is Gustavo's territory but I have to chime in here. Our chances of getting a decent tortilla at Vons or Ralph's is zero, but both those stores are basically useless anyway. The Maseca laden gringo brands are more reminiscent of disc-shaped rounds of reconstituted herring fiber than anything else. You MIGHT find some decent ones at your local Stater Brothers. But if you want good tortillas, drive to Santa Ana and hit La Reina, El Toro or any other similar mercado or tortilleria. Make sure you take a good, long look at the pinche meat case as well; it'll be good for your soul.
3. Use Shitty Hot Sauce
Let's get something straight: Tabasco is not hot sauce, it's pepper-infused vinegar. Also not hot sauce? Del Scorcho or Rosarita “Taco Sauce.” In a tight spot, Crystal will do; Red Rooster or Trappy's will also suffice in the gringo sauce realm. But in a world filled with various products like Melinda's (habanero carrot), Cholula, El Yucateco, a cornucopia of house made salsa rojas, and a slew of others like Srirancha, harrissas, various sambals, piri piris, we generally demonstrate how milquetoast we really are.
4. Embrace Food Allergies
Guess what? White people also like being victims! How does this mix with our eating habits? Food allergies! True story-I once had a member of the South Coast elite tell me she was “allergic to condiments.” I'm not talking about people out there who legitimately can't be in the same room as a peanut, ones with celiac disease or those that get anaphylactic from a whiff of shellfish. I'm talking about the ones whose holistic nutritionist tells them “You have a spore problem” or “Avoid legumes; it will realign your sacrum.” Gratuitous food allergies are a
luxury us white people love to lavish ourselves with on a regular basis, the more inconvenient to others the better.
5. Take Home Leftovers and Not Eat Them
Let's face it: white people feel guilty about everything (I feel just awful about what I just wrote about food allergies). They feel especially guilty about what they eat or, more importantly, what they don't. So guilty, in fact, they might even take home some leftovers—or at least box them up and leave them at the table. What happens when they get home is completely different. That leftover BLT or omelet is just as likely to languish at the back of the fridge as it is to actually be eaten. But we brought it home, right? Aren't we thoughtful?
6. Spend Too Much on Groceries
White people also like to feel good about ourselves. And what makes us feel good about ourselves? Spending too much money on food. You can go to Superior and get four pounds of Roma tomatoes for a buck or pay $3.99 a pound at your nearby gabacho-mart. The cheaper places may have dirty floors (eww!) or those shopping carts that have the wheels that lock (gasp!), or long lines (oh, the humanity!) but it's basically all the same and the stuff from Hoa Binh or 99 Ranch markets isn't poison, so get over it.
They say people that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and that's certainly true here; I've done a bit of the above. Thankfully, my house is made of plaster with a fresh coat of “Golden Cricket.”
And, yes, we found the perfect color for our eaves. “Sage Dawn.”
Want more of Dave's rantings/ravings/ramblings? Check out www.dinnerwithdave.com for the latest!