Last week my wife coerced me into going to San Francisco to view an art exhibit. She used the usual veiled threats (booze, food, sex) to bring me to surrender.
Our midweek excursion day took place on a drizzly Wednesday and I never expected finding such a high number of art groupies at the same time.
Like hungry blackbirds, they flocked to the de Young Museum to peck at the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” exhibition.
I could not help but notice that men were outnumbered by women fifty to one.
Inside the museum we were immediately surrounded by a sea of very determined looking amazons. Many were carrying a water canteen (and various combat items) on their bulging clothes and they looked like battle-hardened veterans ready to storm a well-defended bunker.
If a man were looking for a place to meet a woman, this would be the spot but unfortunately attractive women were few in number. I gather that they have better things to do than watch Flemish art.
To be honest, museums are not my cup of tea. They attract too many people at the same time and I just happen to be allergic to crowds.
When it comes to art, I aim (like a good brandy) to take it in small doses and quietly savor the moment.
I don’t like to be crowded by pushy gawkers.
Museumgoers tend to be broad-butted individuals who are prone to hogging well-known pieces. They camp (for a long time) in front of a painting and are not inclined to share.
I also noticed that they are impervious to nasty stares.
Personally, when I go to an art exhibition, I don’t want to look at a lot of stuff and I definitely don’t want to share my feelings with anybody else.
I want a private moment with a few pieces and I aspire to leave almost immediately after that.
I am definitely not a serial art watcher.
After an hour of continuous art watching I tend to get a rash.
Around noon, by general consensus, we decided that we had had our fill of art and left the building.
I decided to take my fellow adventurers to a little restaurant called “Chez Maman”.
I didn’t know much about it but I liked the name. With a name like this, could the food be bad?
This place is located in the Hayes Valley, at the intersection of Gough and Hayes.
It is small and we had to wait for about fifteen minutes before being seated.
The menu showed “Escargots de Bourgogne” and we all spontaneously went for it.
I also noticed that the word Escargot was erroneously spelled as “Escarcot” but I decided to overlook this.
Then both of my guests ordered grilled Mahi-Mahi and I chose “Mussels Poulette” for myself.
It must have been Maman’s day off, and a Mexican cousin must have filled in for her, because once more the Escargots were tasteless. Alas, alas, alas!
When we brought our concern to the host’s attention he looked surprised (don’t they all) and offered to bring us a fresh batch.
We declined and ordered instead some “soupe a l’onion” and “une assiette de merguez” also misspelled as “meguez”.
(I have noticed that when people misspell the word of a foreign dish, they rarely know much about it.)
The onion soup proved satisfying and so was the Mahi-Mahi.
The mussels “sauce poulette” were OK. Not great, just OK.
At the end of the meal, the host (probably to atone for the kitchen’s sins) offered us a glass of very good Muscat.
Would I return to Chez Maman?
Maybe, making sure first that Maman is in the kitchen, and second that she boned up on her “escargot” recipe.
Just to remind you Maman: the ingredients are butter, garlic, parsley and salt. That’s all.
All together, I dare say that our lunch was a tad more fulfilling than the “Girl with the Pearl Earring” exhibit.