THE ELEGANT ART OF DINING
Bohemian San Francisco
Its Restaurants and Their Most Famous Recipes— The Elegant Art of Dining
By Clarence E. Edwords
Dedication To Whom Shall I Dedicate This Book? To Some Good Friend? To Some Pleasant Companion? To None of These, For From Them Came Not The Inspiration. To Whom, Then? To The Best Of All Bohemian Comrades, My Wife.
No apologies are offered for this book. In fact, we rather like it. Many years have been spent in gathering this information, and naught is written in malice, nor through favoritism, our expressions of opinion being unbiased by favor or compensation. We have made our own investigation and given our own ideas.
That our opinion does not coincide with that of others does not concern us in the least, for we are pleased only with that which pleases us, and not that with which others say we ought to be pleased.
If this sound egotistical we are sorry, for it is not meant in that way. We believe that each and every individual should judge for him or herself, considering ourselves fortunate that our ideas and tastes are held in common.
San Franciscans, both residential and transient, are a pleasure-loving people, and dining out is a distinctive feature of their pleasure. With hundreds of restaurants to select from, each specializing on some particular dish, or some peculiar mode of preparation, one often becomes bewildered and turns to familiar names on the menu card rather than venture into fields that are new, of strange and rare dishes whose unpronounceable names of themselves frequently are sufficient to discourage those unaccustomed to the art and science of cooking practiced by those whose lives have been spent devising means of tickling fastidious palates of a city of gourmets.
In order that those who come within our gates, and many others who have resided here in blindness for years, may know where to go and what to eat, and that they may carry away with them a knowledge of how to prepare some of the dishes pleasing to the taste and nourishing to the body, that have spread San Francisco's fame over the world, we have decided to set down the result of our experience and study of our Bohemian population and their ways, and also tell where to find and how to order the best special dishes.
Over North Beach way we asked the chef of a little restaurant how he cooked crab. He replied:
"The right way."
One often wonders how certain dishes are cooked and we shall tell you "the right way."
It is hoped that when you read what is herein written some of our pleasure may be imparted to you, and with this hope the story of San Francisco's Bohemianism is presented.
Clarence E. Edwords. San Francisco, California, September 22, 1914.
Not to the Future, nor to the Past; No drink of Joy or Sorrow; We drink alone to what will last; Memories on the Morrow. Let us live as Old Time passes; To the Present let Bohemia bow. Let us raise on high our glasses To Eternity—the ever-living Now.
Foreword The Good Gray City The Land of Bohemia As it was in the Beginning When the Gringo Came Early Italian Impression Birth of the French Restaurant At the Cliff House Some Italian Restaurants Impress of Mexico On the Barbary Coast The City That Was Passes Sang the Swan Song Bohemia of the Present As it is in Germany In the Heart of Italy A Breath of the Orient Artistic Japan Old and New Palace At the Hotel St. Francis Amid the Bright Lights Around Little Italy Where Fish Come In Fish in Their Variety Lobsters and Lobsters King of Shell Fish Lobster In Miniature Clams and Abalone's Where Fish Abound Some Food Variants About Dining Something About Cooking Told in A Whisper Out of Nothing Paste Makes Waist Tips and Tipping The Mythical Land Appendix (How to Serve Wines, Recipes) Index
Bohemian San Francisco
"The best of all ways To lengthen our days Is to steal a few hours From the night, my dear."
The Good Gray City San Francisco!
San Francisco! Is there a land where the magic of that name has not been felt? Bohemian San Francisco! Pleasure-loving San Francisco! Care-free San Francisco! Yet withal the city where liberty never means license and where Bohemianism is not synonymous with Boorishness.
It was in Paris that a world traveler said to us:
"San Francisco! That wonderful city where you get the best there is to eat, served in a manner that enhances its flavor and establishes it forever in your memory."
Were one to write of San Francisco and omit mention of its gustatory delights the whole world would protest, for in San Francisco eating is an art and cooking a science, and he who knows not what San Francisco provides knows neither art nor science.
Here have congregated the world's greatest chefs, and when one exclaims in ecstasy over a wonderful flavor found in some dingy restaurant, let him not be surprised if he learn that the chef who concocted the dish boasts royal decoration for tickling the palate of some epicurean ruler of foreign land.
And why should San Francisco have achieved this distinction in the minds of the gourmets?
Do not other cities have equally as good chefs, and do not the people of other cities have equally as fine gastronomic taste?
They have all this but with them is lacking "atmosphere."
Where do we find such romanticism as in San Francisco? Where do we find so many strange characters and happenings? All lending almost mystic charm to the environment surrounding queer little restaurants, where rare dishes are served, and where one feels that he is in foreign land, even though he be in the center of a high representative American city.
San Francisco's cosmopolitanism is peculiar to itself. Here are represented the nations of earth in such distinctive colonies that one might well imagine himself possessed of the magic carpet told of in Arabian Nights Tales, as he is transported in the twinkling of an eye from country to country. It is but a step across a street from America into Japan, then another step into China. Cross another street and you are in Mexico, close neighbor to France. Around the corner lies Italy, and from Italy you pass to Lombardy, and on to Greece. So it goes until one feels that he has been around the world in an afternoon.
But the stepping across the street and one passes from one land to the other, finding all the peculiar characteristics of the various countries as indelibly fixed as if they were thousands of miles away. Speech, manners, customs, costumes and religions change with startling rapidity, and as you enter into the life of the nation you find that each has brought the best of its gastronomy for your delectation.
San Francisco has called to the world for its best, and the response has been so prompt that no country has failed to send its tribute and give the best thought of those who cater to the men and women who know.
This aggregation of cuisinaire, gathered where is to be found a most wonderful variety of food products in highest state of excellence, has made San Francisco the Mecca for lovers of gustatory delights, and this is why the name of San Francisco is known wherever men and women sit at table.
It has taken us years of patient research to learn how these chefs prepare their combinations of fish, flesh, fowl, and herbs, in order that we might put them down, giving recipes of dishes whose memories linger in the minds of world wanderers, and to which their thoughts revert with a sigh as they partake of unsatisfactory viands in other countries and other cosmopolitan cities.
Those to whom only the surface of things is visible are prone to express wonder at the love and enthusiasm of the San Franciscan for his home city. The casual visitor cannot understand the enchantment, the mystery, the witchery that holds one; they do not know that we steal the hours from the night to lengthen our days because the gray, whispering wraiths of fog hold for us the very breath of life; they do not know that the call of the wind, and of the sea, and of the air, is the inspiration that makes San Francisco the pleasure-ground of the world.
It is this that makes San Francisco the home of Bohemia, and whether it be in the early morning hours as one rises to greet the first gray streaks of dawn, or as the sun drops through the Golden Gate to its ocean bed, so slowly that it seems loth to leave; whether it be in the broad glare of noon-day sun, or under the dazzling blaze of midnight lights, San Francisco ever holds out her arms, wide in welcome, to those who see more in life than the dull routine of working each day in order that they may gain sufficient to enable them to work again on the morrow.
The Land of Bohemia
Bohemia! What vulgarities are perpetrated in thy name! How abused is the word! Because of a misconception of an idea it has suffered more than any other in the English language. It has done duty in describing almost every form of license and licentiousness. It has been the cloak of debauchery and the excuse for sex degradation. It has been so misused as to bring the very word into disrepute.
To us Bohemianism means the naturalism of refined people.
That it may be protected from vulgarians Society prescribes conventional rules and regulations, which, like morals, change with environment.
Bohemianism is the protest of naturalism against the too rigid, and, oft-times, absurd restrictions established by Society.
The Bohemian requires no prescribed rules, for his or her innate gentility prevents those things Society guards against. In Bohemia men and women mingle in good fellowship and camaraderie without finding the sex question a necessary topic of conversation. They do not find it necessary to push exhilaration to intoxication; to increase their animation to boisterousness. Their lack of conventionality does not tend to boorishness.
Some of the most enjoyable Bohemian affairs we know of have been full dress gatherings, carefully planned and delightfully carried out; others have been impromptu, neither the hour, the place, nor the dress being taken into consideration.
The unrefined get everywhere, even into the drawing rooms of royalty, consequently we must expect to meet them in Bohemia. But the true Bohemian has a way of forgetting to meet obnoxious personages and, as a rule, is more choice in the selection of associates than the vaunted "400." With the Bohemian but one thing counts: Fitness. Money, position, personal appearance and even brains are of no avail if there be the bar sinister—unfit.
In a restaurant, one evening, a number of men and women were seated conspicuously at a table in the center of the room. Flowing neckties such as are affected by Parisian art students were worn by the men; all were coarse, loud and much in evidence. They not only attracted attention by their loudness and outre actions, but they called notice by pelting other diners with missiles of bread. To us they were the last word in vulgarity, but to a young woman who had come to the place because she had heard it was "so Bohemian" they were ideal, and she remarked to her companion:
"I do so love to associate with real Bohemians like these. Can't we get acquainted with them?"
"Sure," was the response. "All we have to do is to buy them a drink."
In San Francisco there are Bohemians and Near-Bohemians, and if you are like the young woman mentioned you are apt to miss the real and take the imitation for the genuine article.
We mean no derogation of San Francisco's restaurants when we say that San Francisco's highest form of Bohemianism is rarely in evidence in restaurants. We have enjoyed wonderful Bohemian dinners in restaurants, but the other diners were not aware of it. Some far more interesting gatherings have been in the rooms of Bohemian friends. Not always is it the artistic combination of famous chef that brings greatest delight, for we have as frequently had pleasure over a supper of some simple dish in the attic room of a good friend.
This brings us to the crux of Bohemianism. It depends so little on environment that it means nothing, and so much on companionship that it means all.
To achieve a comprehensive idea of San Francisco's Bohemianism let us divide its history into five eras. First we have the old Spanish days— the days "before the Gringo came." Then reigned conviviality held within most discreet bounds of convention, and it would be a misnomer, indeed, to call the pre-pioneer days of San Francisco "Bohemian" in any sense of the word.
Courtesy unfailing, good-fellowship always in tune, and lavish hospitality, marked the days of the Dons—those wonderfully considerate hosts who always placed a pile of gold and silver coins on the table of the guest chamber, in order that none might go away in need. Their feasts were events of careful consideration and long preparation, and those whose memories carry them back to the early days, recall bounteous loading of tables when festal occasion called for display.
Lips linger lovingly over such names as the Vallejos, the Picos, and those other Spanish families who spread their hospitality with such wondrous prodigality that their open welcome became a by-word in all parts of the West.
But it was not in the grand fiestas that the finest and most palatable dishes were to be found. In the family of each of these Spanish Grandees were culinary secrets known to none except the "Senora de la Casa," and transmitted by her to her sons and daughters.
We have considered ourselves fortunate in being taken into the confidence of one of the descendants of Senora Benicia Vallejo, and honored with some of her prize recipes, which find place in this book, not as the famous recipe of some Bohemian restaurants but as the tribute to the spirit of the land that made those Bohemian restaurants possible. Of these there is no more tasty and satisfying dish than Spanish Eggs, prepared as follows:
Empty a can of tomatoes in a frying pan; thicken with bread and add two or three small green peppers and an onion sliced fine. Add a little butter and salt to taste. Let this simmer gently and then carefully break on top the number of eggs desired. Dip the simmering tomato mixture over the eggs until they are cooked.
Another favorite recipe of Mrs. Vallejo was Spanish Beefsteak prepared as follows:
Cut the steak into pieces the size desired for serving. Place these pieces on a meat board and sprinkle liberally with flour. With a wooden corrugated mallet beat the flour into the steak. Fry the steak in a pan with olive oil. In another frying pan, at the same time, fry three good-sized onions and three green peppers. When the steak is cooked sufficiently put it to one side of the pan and let the oil run to the other side. On the oil pour sufficient water to cover the meat and add the onions and peppers, letting all simmer for a few minutes. Serve on hot platter.
Spanish mode of cooking rice is savory and most palatable, and Mrs. Vallejo's recipe for this is as follows:
Slice together three good-sized onions and three small green peppers. Fry them in olive oil. Take one-half cup of rice and boil it until nearly done, then drain it well and add it to the frying onions and peppers. Fry all together until thoroughly brown, which will take some time. Season with salt and serve.
These three recipes are given because they are simple and easily prepared. Many complex recipes could be given, and some of these will appear in the part of the book devoted to recipes, but when one considers the simplicity of the recipes mentioned, it can readily be seen that it takes little preparation to get something out of the ordinary.
When the Gringo Came
To its pioneer days much of San Francisco's Bohemian spirit is due. When the cry of "Gold" rang around the world adventurous wanderers of all lands answered the call, and during the year following Marshall's discovery two thousand ships sailed into San Francisco Bay, many to be abandoned on the beach by the gold-mad throng, and it was in some of these deserted sailing vessels that San Francisco's restaurant life had its inception. With the immediately succeeding years the horde of gold hunters was augmented by those who brought necessities and luxuries to exchange for the yellow metal given up by the streams flowing from the Mother Lode. With them also came cooks to prepare delectable dishes for those who had passed the flap-jack stage, and desired the good things of life to repay them for the hardships, privations and dearth of woman's companionship. As the male human was largely dominant in numbers it was but natural that they should gather together for companionship, and here began the Bohemian spirit that has marked the city for its own to the present day.
These men were all individualists, and their individualism has been transmitted to their offspring together with independence of action. Hence comes the Bohemianism born of individuality and independence.
It was only natural that the early San Franciscans should foregather where good cheer was to be found, and the old El Dorado House, at Portsmouth Square, was really what may be called the first Bohemian restaurant of the city. So well was this place patronized and so exorbitant the prices charged that twenty-five thousand dollars a month was not considered an impossible rental.
Next in importance was the most fashionable restaurant of early days, the Iron House. It was built of heavy sheet iron that had been brought around the Horn in a sailing vessel, and catered well, becoming for several years the most famed restaurant of the city. Here, in Montgomery street, between Jackson and Pacific, was the rendezvous of pioneers, and here the Society of California Pioneers had its inception, receiving impressions felt to the present day in San Francisco and California history. Here, also, was first served Chicken in the Shell, the dish from which so many later restaurants gained fame. The recipe for this as prepared by the Iron House is still extant, and we are indebted to a lady, who was a little girl when that restaurant was waning, whose mother secured the recipe. It was prepared as follows:
Chicken in a Shell
Into a kettle containing a quart of water put a young chicken, one sliced onion, a bay leaf, two cloves, a blade of mace and six pepper-corns. Simmer in the covered kettle for one hour and set aside to cool. When cool remove the meat from the bones, rejecting the skin. Cut the meat into small dice. Mix in a saucepan, over a fire without browning, a tablespoonful of butter, a tablespoonful of flour, then add half a pint of cream. Stir this constantly until it boils, then add a truffle, two dozen mushrooms chopped fine, a dash of white pepper and then the dice of chicken. Let the whole stand in a bain marie, or chafing dish, until quite hot. Add the yolks of two eggs and let cook two minutes. Stir in half a glass of sherry and serve in cockle shells.
Early Italian Impression
Almost coincident with the opening of the Iron House an Italian named Bazzuro took possession of one of the stranded sailing vessels encumbering the Bay, and anchored it out in the water at the point where Davis and Pacific streets now intersect. He opened a restaurant which immediately attracted attention and gained good reputation for its service and its cooking. Later, when the land was filled in, Bazzuro built a house at almost the same spot and opened his restaurant there, continuing it up to the time of the great fire in 1906.
After the fire one of the earliest restaurants to be established in that part of the city was Bazzuro's, at the same corner, and it is still run by the family, who took charge after the death of the original proprietor. Here one can get the finest Italian peasant meal in the city, and many of the Italian merchants and bankers still go there for their luncheons every day, preferring it to the more pretentious establishments.
The French peasant style came a little later, beginning in a little dining room opened in Washington street, just above Kearny, by a French woman whose name was a carefully guarded secret. She was known far and wide as "Ma Tanta" (My Aunt). Her cooking was considered the best of all in the city, and her patrons sat at a long common table, neat and clean to the last degree. Peasant style of serving was followed. First appeared Ma Tanta with a great bowl of salad which she passed around, each patron helping himself. This was followed by an immense tureen of soup, held aloft in the hands of Ma Tanta, and again each was his own waiter. Fish, entree, roast, and dessert, were served in the same manner, and with the black coffee Ma Tanta changed from servitor to hostess and sat with her guests and discussed the topics of the day on equal terms.
In California street, just below Dupont, the California House boasted a great chef in the person of John Somali, who in later years opened the Maison Riche, a famous restaurant that went out of existence in the fire of 1906. Gourmets soon discovered that the California House offered something unusual and it became a famed resort. Somali's specialties were roast turkey, chateaubriand steak and coffee frappe. It is said of his turkeys that their flavor was of such excellence that one of the gourmands of that day, Michael Reece, would always order two when he gave a dinner—one for his guests and one for himself. It is also said that our well-beloved Bohemian, Rafael Weill, still holds memories of the old California House, of which he was an habitue, and from whose excellent chef he learned to appreciate the art and science of cooking as evidenced by the breakfasts and dinners with which he regales his guests at the present day.
But many of the hardy pioneers were of English and American stock and preferred the plainer foods of their old homes to the highly seasoned dishes of the Latin chefs, and to cater to this growing demand the Nevada was opened in Pine street between Montgomery and Kearny. This place became noted for its roast beef and also for its corned beef and cabbage, which was said to be of most excellent flavor.
Most famous of all the old oyster houses was Mannings, at the corner of Pine and Webb streets. He specialized in oysters and many of his dishes have survived to the present day. It is said that the style now called "Oysters Kirkpatrick," is but a variant of Manning's "Oyster Salt Roast."
At the corner of California and Sansome streets, where now stands the Bank of California, was the Tehama House, one of the most famous of the city's early hostelries, whose restaurant was famed for its excellence. The Tehama House was the rendezvous of army and navy officers and high state officials. Lieutenant John Derby, of the United States Army, one of the most widely known western authors of that day, made it his headquarters. Derby wrote under the names of "John Phoenix," and "Squibob."
Perini's, in Post street between Grant avenue and Stockton, specialized in pastes and veal risotto, and was much patronized by uptown men.
The original Marchand began business in a little room in Dupont street, between Jackson and Washington, which district at that time had not been given over to the Chinese, and he cooked over a charcoal brazier, in his window, in view of passing people who were attracted by the novelty and retained by the good cooking. With the extension of his fame he found his room too small and he rented a cottage at Bush and Dupont street, but his business grew so rapidly that he was compelled to move to more commodious quarters at Post and Dupont and later to a much larger place at Geary and Stockton, where he enjoyed good patronage until the fire destroyed his place. There is now a restaurant in Geary street near Mason which has on its windows in very small letters "Michael, formerly of," and then in bold lettering, "Marchands." But Michael has neither the art nor the viands that made Marchands famous, and he is content to say that his most famous dish is tripe—just plain, plebeian tripe.
Christian Good, at Washington and Kearny, Big John, at Merchant street between Montgomery and Sansome, Marshall's Chop House, in the old Center Market, and Johnson's Oyster House, in a basement at Clay and Leidesdorff streets, were all noted places and much patronized, the latter laying the foundation of one of San Francisco's "First Families." Martin's was much patronized by the Old Comstock crowd, and this was the favorite dining place of the late William C. Ralston.
One of the most famous restaurants of the early '70s was the Mint, in Commercial street, between Montgomery and Kearny, where the present restaurant of the same name is located. It was noted for its Southern cooking and was the favorite resort of W. W. Foote and other prominent Southerners. The kitchen was presided over by old Billy Jackson, an old-time Southern darkey, who made a specialty of fried chicken, cream gravy, and corn fritters.
Birth of the French Restaurant
French impression came strongly about this time, and the Poodle Dog, of Paris, had its prototype at Bush and Dupont streets. This was one of the earliest of the type known as "French Restaurants," and numerous convivial parties of men and women found its private rooms convenient for rendezvous. Old Pierre of later days, who was found dead out on the Colma road some two years after the fire of 1906, was a waiter at the Poodle Dog when it started, and by saving his tips and making good investments he was able to open a similar restaurant at Stockton and Market, which he called the Pup. The Pup was famous for its frogs' legs a la poulette. In this venture Pierre had a partner, to whom he sold out a few years later and then he opened the Tortoni in O'Farrell street, which became one of the most famous of the pre-fire restaurants, its table d'hote dinners being considered the best in the city. When Claus Spreckels built the tall Spreckels building Pierre and his partner opened the Call restaurant in the top stories. With the fire both of the restaurants went out of existence, and the old proprietor of the Poodle Dog having died, Pierre and a partner named Pon bought the place, and for a year or so after the fire it was one of the best French restaurants in the city. After Pierre's untimely death the restaurant was merged with Bergez and Frank's, and is now in Bush street above Kearny.
Much romance attached to Pierre, it being generally believed that he belonged to a wealthy French family, because of his education, his unfailing courtesy, his ready wit and his gentility. Pierre specialized in fish cooked with wine, and as a favor to his patrons he would go to the kitchen and prepare the dish with his own hands.
In O'Farrell street the Delmonico was one of the most famous of the French restaurants until the fire. It was several stories high, and each story contained private rooms. Carriages drove directly into the building from the street and the occupants went by elevator to soundproof rooms above, where they were served by discreet waiters.
The Poodle Dog, the Pup, Delmonico's, Jacques, Frank's, the Mint, Bergez, Felix and Campi's are the connecting links between the fire and the pioneer days. Some of them still carry the names and memories of the old days. All were noted for their good dinners and remarkably low prices.
Shortly after the fire Blanco, formerly connected with the old Poodle Dog, opened a place in O'Farrell street, between Hyde and Larkin, calling it "Blanco's." During the reconstruction period this was by far the best restaurant in the city, and it is still one of the noted places. Later Blanco opened a fine restaurant in Mason street, between Turk and Eddy, reviving the old name of the Poodle Dog, and here all the old traditions have been revived. Both of these savor of the old type of French restaurants, catering to a class of quiet spenders who carefully guard their indiscretions.
In the early '50s and '60s the most noted places were not considered respectable enough for ladies, and at restaurants like the Three Trees, in Dupont just above Bush street, ladies went into little private rooms through an alley. Peter Job saw his opportunity and opened a restaurant where special attention was paid to lady patrons, and shortly after the New York restaurant, in Kearny street, did the same.
Merging the post-pioneer, era with the pre-fire era came the Maison Doree, which became famous in many ways. It was noted for oysters a la poulette, prepared after the following recipe:
Oysters a La Poulette
One-half cup butter, three tablespoons flour, yolks of three eggs. One pint chicken stock (or veal), one tablespoonful lemon juice, one-eighth teaspoon pepper, one level teaspoon salt. Beat the butter and flour together until smooth and white. Then add salt, pepper and lemon juice. Gradually pour boiling stock on this mixture and simmer for ten minutes. Beat the yolks of eggs in a saucepan, gradually pouring the cooked sauce upon them. Pour into a double boiler containing boiling water in lower part of utensil. Stir the mixture for one and one-half minutes. Into this put two dozen large oysters and let cook until edges curl up and serve hot.
Captain Cropper, an old Marylander, had a restaurant that was much patronized by good livers, and in addition to the usual Southern dishes he specialized on terrapin a la Maryland, sending back to his native State for the famous diamond-back terrapin. His recipe for this was as follows:
Terrapin a La Maryland
Cut a terrapin in small pieces, about one inch long, after boiling it. Put the pieces in a saute pan with two ounces of sweet butter, salt, pepper, a very little celery salt, a pinch of paprika. Simmer for a few minutes and then add one glass of sherry wine, which reduce to half by boiling. Then add one cup of cream, bring to a boil and thicken with two yolks of eggs mixed with a half cup of cream. Let it come to a near boil and add half a glass of dry sherry and serve.
You may thicken the terrapin with the following mixture: Two raw yolks of eggs, two boiled yolks of eggs, one ounce of butter, one ounce corn starch. Rub together and pass through a fine sieve.
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Tony Oakes, the Hermitage, and Cornelius Stagg's were noted road-houses where fine meals were served, but these are scarcely to be considered as San Francisco Bohemian restaurants.
The Reception, on the corner of Sutter and Webb streets, which continued up to the time of the fire, was noted for its terrapin specialties, but it was rather malodorous and ladies who patronized it usually went in through the Webb street entrance to keep from being seen. The old Baldwin Hotel, which stood where the Flood building now stands, at the corner of Market and Powell and which was destroyed by fire some fourteen years ago, was the favorite resort of many of the noted men of the West, and the grill had the distinction of being the best in San Francisco at that time. The grill of the Old Palace Hotel was also of highest order, and this was especially true of the Ladies' Grill which was then, as now, noted for its artistic preparation of a wondrous variety of good things.
Probably the most unique place of the pioneer and post-pioneer eras was the Cobweb Palace, at Meiggs's Wharf, run by queer old Abe Warner. It was a little ramshackle building extending back through two or three rooms filled with all manner of old curios such as comes from sailing vessels that go to different parts of the world. These curios were piled indiscriminately everywhere, and there were boxes and barrels piled with no regard whatever for regularity. This heterogeneous conglomeration was covered with years of dust and cobwebs, hence the name. Around and over these played bears, monkeys, parrots, cats, and dogs, and whatever sort of bird or animal that could be accommodated until it had the appearance of a small menagerie. Warner served crab in various ways and clams. In the rear room, which was reached by a devious path through the debris, he had a bar where he served the finest of imported liquors, French brandy, Spanish wines, English ale, all in the original wood. He served no ordinary liquor of any sort, saying that if anybody wanted whiskey they could get it at any saloon. He catered to a class of men who knew good liquors, and his place was a great resort for children, of whom he was fond and who went there to see the animals. The frontispiece of this book is from one of the few existing (if not the only one) photographs of the place.
Equally unique, yet of higher standard, was the Palace of Art, run by the Hackett brothers, in Post street near Market. Here were some of the finest paintings and marble carvings to be found in the city, together with beautiful hammered silver plaques and cups. Curios of all sorts were displayed on the walls, and among them were many queer wood growths showing odd shapes as well as odd colorings. A large and ornate bar extended along one side of the immense room and tables were placed about the room and in a balcony that ran along one side. Here meals were served to both men and women, the latter being attracted by the artistic display and unique character of the place. This was destroyed by the fire and all the works of art lost.
At the Cliff House
Three times destroyed by fire, and three times rebuilt, the Cliff House stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the Sundown Sea, where San Francisco's beach is laved by the waves of the Ocean. Since the first Cliff House was erected this has been a place famous the world over because of its scenic beauty and its overlooking the Seal Rocks, where congregate a large herd of sea lions disporting much to the edification of the visitors. Appealing from its romantic surroundings, interesting because of its history, and attractive through its combination of dashing waves and beautiful beach extending miles in one direction, with the rugged entrance to Golden Gate in the other, with the mysterious Farallones in the dim distance, the Cliff House may well be classed as one of the great Bohemian restaurants of San Francisco.
Lovers of the night life know it well for it is the destination of many an automobile party. During the day its terraces are filled with visitors from abroad who make this a part of their itinerary, and here, as they drink in the wondrous beauty of the scene spread before them, partake of well prepared and well served dishes such as made both the Cliff House and San Francisco well and favorably known and whose fame is not bounded by the continent.
But for a most pleasant visit to the Cliff House one should choose the early morning hours, and go out when the air is blowing free and fresh from the sea, the waves cresting with amber under the magic touch of the easterly sun. Select a table next to one of the western windows and order a breakfast that is served here better than any place we have tried. This breakfast will consist of broiled breast of young turkey, served with broiled Virginia ham with a side dish of corn fritters. When you sit down to this after a brisk ride out through Golden Gate Park, you have the great sauce, appetite, and with a pot of steaming coffee whose aroma rises like the incense to the Sea Gods, you will feel that while you have thought you had good breakfasts before this, you know that now you are having the best of them all. Of course there are many other good things to order if you like, but we have discovered nothing that makes so complete a breakfast as this.
Some Italian Restaurants
"Is everybody happy? Oh, it is only nine o'clock and we've got all night." It was a clear, fresh young voice, full of the joy of living and came from a young woman whose carefree air seemed to say of her existence as of the night "We've got all life before us." The voice, the healthful face and vigorous form, the very live and joyous expression were all significant of the time and place. It was Sunday night and the place was Steve Sanguinetti's, with roisterers in full swing and every table filled and dozens of patrons waiting along the walls ready to take each seat as it was emptied. Here were young men and women just returned from their various picnics across the Bay to their one great event of the week—a Sunday dinner at Sanguinetti's.
Over in one corner of the stifling room, on a raised platform, sat two oily and fat negroes, making the place hideous with their ribald songs and the twanging of a guitar and banjo. When, a familiar air was sounded the entire gathering joined in chorus, and when such tunes as "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" came, the place was pandemonium. Yet through it all perfect order was kept by the fat proprietor, his muscular "bouncer" and two policemen stationed at the doors. Noise was rather invited than frowned upon, and the only line drawn regarding conduct was the throwing of bread. Probably Steve did not want it wasted.
It was all free and easy and nobody took offense at anything said or done. In fact if one were squeamish about such things Sanguinetti's was no place for him or her. One found one's self talking and laughing with the people about as if they were old friends. It made no difference how you were dressed, nor how dignified you tried to be, it was all one with the crowd around the tables. If you wished to stay there in comfort you had to be one of them, and dignity had to be left outside or it would make you so uncomfortable that you would carry it out, to an accompaniment of laughter and jeers of the rest of the diners.
So far as eating was concerned that was not one of the considerations when discussing Sanguinetti's. It was a table d'hote dinner served with a bottle of "Dago red," for fifty cents. You gave the waiter a tip of fifteen cents or "two bits" as you felt liberal, and he was satisfied. If you were especially pleased you gave the darkeys ten cents, not because you enjoyed the music, but just "because."
The one merit of Sanguinetti's before the fire was the fact that all the regular customers were unaffected and natural. They came from the factories, canneries, shops, and drays, and after a week of heart-breaking work this was their one relaxation and they enjoyed it to the full. Many people from the residential part of the city, and many visitors at the hotels, went there as a part of slumming trips, but the real sentiment was expressed by the young girl when she sang out "Is everybody happy?"
Sanguinetti still has his restaurant, and there is still to be found the perspiring darkeys, playing and singing their impossible music, and a crowd still congregates there, but it is not the old crowd for this, like all things else in San Francisco, has changed, and instead of the old-time assemblage of young men and women whose lack of convention came from their natural environment, there is now a crowd of young and old people who patronize it because they have heard it is "so Bohemian."
Thrifty hotel guides take tourists there and tell them it is "the only real Bohemian restaurant in San Francisco," and when the outlanders see the antics of the people and listen to the ribald jests and bad music of the darkeys, they go back to their hotels and tell with bated breath of one of the most wonderful things they have ever seen, and it is one of the wonderful things of their limited experience.
Among the pre-fire restaurants of note were several Italian places which appealed to the Bohemian spirit through their good cooking and absence of conventionality, together with the inexpensiveness of the dinners. Among these were the Buon Gusto, the Fior d'Italia, La Estrella, Campi's and the Gianduja. Of these Campi's, in Clay street below Sansome, was the most noted, and the primitive style of serving combined with his excellent cooking brought him fame. All of these places, or at least restaurants with these names, are still in existence.
Jule's, the Fly Trap, the St. Germain and the Cosmos laid claim to distinction through their inexpensiveness, up to the time of the fire. All of these names are still to be seen over restaurants and they are still in that class, Jule's, possibly, being better than it was before the fire. A good dinner of seven or eight courses, well cooked and well served, could be had in these places for fifty cents. Lombardi's was of the same type but his price was but twenty-five cents for a course dinner in many respects the equal of the others.
Pop Floyd, recently killed by his bartender in an altercation, had a place down in California street much patronized by business men. He had very good service and the best of cooking, and for many years hundreds of business men gathered there at luncheon in lieu of a club. The place is still in existence and good service and good food is to be had there, but it has lost its Bohemian atmosphere.
In Pine street above Montgomery was the Viticultural, a restaurant that had great vogue owing to the excellence of its cooking. Its specialty was marrow on toast and broiled mushrooms, and game.
To speak of Bohemian San Francisco and say nothing of the old Hoffman saloon, on Second and Market streets, would be like the play of Hamlet with Hamlet left out. "Pop" Sullivan, or "Billy" Sullivan, according to the degree of familiarity of the acquaintance, boasted of the fact that from the day this place opened until he sold the doors were closed but once, the keys having been thrown away on opening day. During all the years of its existence the only day it was closed was the day of the funeral of Sullivan's mother. Here was the most magnificent bar in San Francisco, and in connection was a restaurant that catered to people who not only knew good things but ordered them. The back part of the place with entrance on Second street was divided off into little rooms with tables large enough for four. These rooms were most lavish in their decoration, the most interesting feature being that they were all made of different beautiful woods, highly polished. Woods were here from all parts of the world, each being distinctive. In these rooms guests were served with the best the market afforded, by discreet darkeys. This place was the best patronized of all the Bohemian resorts of the city up to the time of the fire. One of the special dainties served were the Hoffman House biscuits, light and flaky, such as could be found nowhere else.
Out by Marshall Square, by the City Hall, was Good Fellow's Grotto, started by Techau, who afterward built and ran the Techau Tavern. This place was in a basement and had much vogue among politicians and those connected with the city government. It specialized on beefsteaks.
Under the St. Ann building, at Eddy and Powell streets, was the Louvre, started and managed by Carl Zinkand, who afterward opened the place in Market above Fourth street, called Zinkand's. This was distinctly German in appointments and cooking and was the best of its kind in the city. Under the Phelan building at O'Farrell and Market was the Old Louvre in which place one could get German cooking, but it was not a place that appealed to those who knew good service.
Bab's had a meteoric career and was worthy of much longer life, but Babcock had too high an idealization of what San Francisco wanted. He emulated the Parisian restaurants in oddities, one of his rooms being patterned after the famous Cabaret de la Mort, and one dined off a coffin and was lighted by green colored tapers affixed to skulls. Aside from its oddities it was one of the best places for a good meal for Bab had the art of catering down to a nicety. There were rooms decorated to represent various countries and in each room you could get a dinner of the country represented.
Thompson's was another place that was too elaborate for its patronage and after a varied existence from the old Oyster Loaf to a cafeteria Thompson was compelled to leave for other fields and San Francisco lost a splendid restaurateur. He opened the place under the Flood building, after the fire, in most magnificent style, taking in two partners. The enormous expense and necessary debt contracted to open the place was too much and Thompson had to give up his interest. This place is now running as the Portola-Louvre.
Much could be written of these old-time restaurants, and as we write story after story amusing, interesting, and instructive come to mind, each indicative of the period when true Bohemianism was to be found in the City that Was.
An incident that occurred in the old Fior d'Italia well illustrates this spirit of camaraderie, as it shows the good-fellowship that then obtained. We went to that restaurant for dinner one evening, and the proprietor, knowing our interest in human nature studies, showed us to a little table in the back part of the room, where we could have a good view of all the tables. Our table was large enough to seat four comfortably, and presently, as the room became crowded, the proprietor, with many excuses, asked if he could seat two gentlemen with us. They were upper class Italians, exceedingly polite, and apologized profusely for intruding upon us. In a few minutes another gentleman entered and our companions at once began frantic gesticulations and called him to our table, where room was made and another cover laid. Again and again this occurred until finally at a table suited for four, nine of us were eating, laughing, and talking together, we being taken into the comradeship without question. When it came time for us to depart the entire seven rose and stood, bowing as we passed from the restaurant.
Impress of Mexico
Running through all the fabric of San Francisco's history is the thread of Mexican and Spanish romance and tradition, carrying us back to the very days when the trooper sent out by Portola first set eyes on the great inland sea now known as San Francisco Bay. It would seem that the cuisinaire most indelibly stamped on the taste of the old San Franciscan would, therefore, be of either Spanish or Mexican origin. That this is not a fact is because among the earliest corners to California after it passed from Mexican hands to those of the United States, were French and Italian cooks, and the bon vivants of both lands who wanted their own style of cooking. While the Spanish did not impress their cooking on San Francisco, it is the cuisine of the Latin races that has given to it its greatest gastronomic prestige, and there still remains from those very early days recipes of the famous dishes which had their beginnings either in Spain or Mexico.
There is much misconception regarding both Spanish and Mexican cooking, for it is generally accepted as a fact that all Mexican and Spanish dishes are so filled with red pepper as to be unpalatable to the normal stomach of those trained to what is called "plain American cooking." Certain dishes of Mexican and Spanish origin owe their fine flavor to discriminating use of chili caliente or chili dulce, but many of the best dishes are entirely innocent of either. The difference between Spanish and Mexican cooking is largely a matter of sentiment. It is a peculiarity of the Spaniard that he does not wish to be classed as a Mexican, and on the other hand the Mexican is angry if he be called a Spaniard. But the fact remains that their cooking is much alike, so much so, in fact, as to be indistinguishable except by different names for similar dishes, and frequently these are the same.
The two famous and world-known dishes of this class of cooking are tortillas and tamales. It is generally supposed that both of these are the product of Mexico, but this is not the case. The tamale had its origin in Spain and was carried to Mexico by the conquistadors, and taken up as a national dish by the natives after many years. The tortilla, on the other hand, is made now exactly as it was made by the Mexican Indian when the Spanish found the country. The aborigine prepared his corn on a stone metate and made it into cakes by patting it with the hand, then cooked it on a hot stone before an open fire. It is still made in that manner in the heart of Mexico, and we could tell a story of how we saw this done one night in the midst of a dense tropical forest, while muleteers and mozas of a great caravan sat around their little campfires, whose fitful light served to intensify the weird appearance of the shadows of the Indians as they passed to and fro among their packs, but this is not the place for such stories.
Of the old Mexican restaurants, those of us who can look back to the days of a quarter of a century ago remember old Felipe and Maria, the Mexican couple who kept the little place in the alley back of the old county jail, off Broadway. Here one had to depend entirely upon sentiment, or rather sentimentality, to be pleased. The cooking was truly Mexican for it included the usual Mexican disregard for dirt. Chattering monkeys and parrots were hanging around the kitchen, peering into pots and fingering viands, and they served to attract attention from myriads of cockroaches that swarmed about the walls. One could go to this place just on the theory that one is willing to try anything once, but aside from its picturesque old couple, and its Dantesque appearance, it offered nothing to induce a return unless it was to entertain a friend.
Everyone who lived in San Francisco before the fire remembers Ricardo, he of the one eye, who served so well at Luna's, on Vallejo and Dupont streets. Ricardo had but one eye but he could see the wants of his patrons much better than many of the later day waiters who have two. Luna's brought fame to San Francisco and in more than one novel of San Francisco life it was featured. Entering the place one came into the home life of the Luna family, and reached the dining room through the parlor, where Mrs. Luna, busy with her drawn work, and all the little Lunas and the neighbors and their children foregathered in the window spaces behind the torn Nottingham curtains which partially concealed the interior from passers on the street. The elder sons and daughters attended to the wants of those who fancied any of the curios displayed in the long showcase that extended from the door to the rear of the room.
Passing through this family group one came to the curtained dining room proper, although there were a number of tables in the family parlor to be used in case of a rush of patrons. Luna's dinners were a feature of the old San Francisco. They were strictly Mexican, from the unpalatable soup (Mexicans do not understand how to make good soup) to the "dulce" served at the close of the meal. First came the appetizers in form of thin slices of salami and of a peculiar Mexican sausage, so extremely hot with chili pepino as to immediately call for a drink of claret to assuage the burning. Then came the soup which we experienced ones always passed over. The salad of modern tables was replaced by an enchilada, and then came either chili con carne or chili con polle according to the day of the week, Sundays having as the extra attraction the chili con pollo, or chicken with pepper. In place of bread they served tortillas, which were rolled and used as a spoon or fork if one were so inclined. Following this was what is known among unenlightened as "stuffed pepper," but which is called by the Spanish, from which country it gets its name, "chili reinas." To signify the close of the meal came frijoles fritas or fried beans, and these were followed by the dessert consisting of some preserved fruit or of a sweet tamale. Fifty cents paid the bill and a tip of fifteen cents to Ricardo made him as happy and as profuse with his thanks as the present day waiter on receipt of half a dollar.
Accepting Luna's as the best type of the Mexican restaurant of the days before the fire, our inquiry developed the fact that the dish on which he specialized was chili reinas, and this is the recipe he used in their preparation:
Roast large bell peppers until the skin turns black. Wash in cold water and rub off the blackened skin. Cut around the stem and remove the seed and coarse veins. Take some dry Monterey cheese, grated fine, and with this fill the peppers, closing the end with a wooden toothpick.
Prepare a batter made as follows: Beat the yolks and whites of six eggs separately, then mix, and stir in a little flour to make a thin batter. Have a pan of boiling lard ready and after dipping the stuffed pepper into the batter dip it into the lard. Remove quickly and dip again in the batter and then again in the lard where it is to remain until fried a light, golden brown, keeping the peppers entirely covered with the boiling lard.
Take the seeds of the peppers, one small white onion and two tomatoes, and grind all together into a pulp, add a little salt and let cook ten minutes. When the chilies are fried turn the remainder of the batter into the tomatoes and boil twenty minutes, then turn this sauce over the peppers.
This is a most delicious dish and can be varied by using finely ground meat to stuff the peppers instead of The cheese.
Mexican restaurants of the present day in San Francisco are a delusion, and unsatisfactory.
On the Barbary Coast
Much has been said and more printed regarding San Francisco's Barbary Coast—much of truth and much mythical. Probably no other individual district has been so instrumental in giving to people of other parts of the country an erroneous idea of San Francisco. It is generally accepted as a fact that in Barbary Coast Vice flaunted itself in reckless abandon before the eyes of the world, showing those things usually concealed behind walls and under cover of the darkness. According to the purists here youth of both sexes was debauched, losing both money and souls. To speak of seeing Barbary Coast brought furtive looks and lowered voices, as if contamination even from the thought were possible. No slumming party was completed without a visit to the "Coast," after Chinatown's manufactured horrors had been shuddered at.
One cannot well speak of the Barbary Coast without bringing into consideration the Social Evil, for here was concentrated dozens of the poor unfortunates of the underworld, compelled to eke out miserable existence through playing on the foibles and vanities of men, or seek oblivion in a suicide's grave. We do not propose to discuss this phase of Barbary Coast as that is not a part of Bohemianism.
We have visited the Coast many times, at all hours of the night, and beyond the unconcealed license of open caresses we have seen nothing shocking to our moral sense that equaled what we have seen in Broadway, New York, or in some of the most fashionable hotels and restaurants of San Francisco on New Year's Eve. Dancing, singing and music—all that is embodied in the "wine, women and song" of the poets, was to be found there, but it was open, and had none of the veiled suggestion to be found in places considered among the best.
In Barbary Coast we have seen more beautiful dancing than on any stage, or in the famous Moulin Rouge, or Jardin Mabile of Paris. In fact, many of the modern dances that have become the vogue all over the country, even being carried to Europe, had their origin in Pacific street dance halls. Texas Tommy, the Grizzly Bear, and many others were first danced here, and some of the finest Texas Tommy dancers on eastern stages went from the dance halls of San Francisco's Barbary Coast.
Vice was there—yes. It was open—yes. But there was the attraction of light and life and laughter that drew crowds nightly.
Barbary Coast was a part of San Francisco's Bohemianism because of its unconventionality, for, you know, there is conventionality even in Vice. Here was the rendezvous of sailor men from all parts of the world, for here they found companionship and joviality.
Up to the time of the closing of Barbary Coast molestation of women on the streets of San Francisco was almost unheard of. Since its closing it is becoming more and more hazardous for women to walk alone at night in the only large city in the world that always had the reputation of guarding its womankind.
The City That Was Passes
Times change and we change with them is well evidenced by the restaurant life of the present day San Francisco. Now, as before the fire, we have the greatest restaurant city of the world—a city where home life is subordinated to the convenience of apartment dwelling and restaurant meals-but the old-time Bohemian finds neither the same atmosphere nor the same restaurants.
True, many of the old names have been retained or revived, but there is not felt the old spirit of camaraderie. Old personalities have passed away and old customs have degenerated. Those who await The Call feel that with the passing of the old city there passed much that made life worth living, and as they prepare to cross to the Great Beyond, they live in their memories of the Past.
With reverence we think of the men and women of the early San Francisco - those who made the city the Home of Bohemia—and it is with this feeling that we now come to discuss the Bohemian restaurants of the New San Francisco.
Sang the Swan Song
In the latter part of April, 1906, when the fire-swept streets presented their most forbidding aspect, and when the only moving figures to be seen after nightfall were armed soldiers guarding the little remaining of value from depredations of skulking vagabonds, a number of the old Bohemian spirits gathered at the corner of Montgomery and Commercial streets, and gazed through the shattered windows into the old dining room where they had held many a royal feast. On the blackened walls might still be seen scarred pictures, fringed by a row of black cats along the ceiling. They turned their steps out toward the Presidio, hunted among the Italian refugees and there found Coppa—he of the wonderful black cats, and it took little persuasion to induce him to go back to his ruined restaurant and prepare a dinner, such as had made his place famous among artists, writers, and other Bohemians, in the days when San Francisco was care-free and held her arms wide open in welcome to all the world.
It was such a dinner as has been accorded to few. Few there are who have the heart to make merry amid crumbling ruins of all they held dear in the material world. The favored ones who assembled there will always hold that dinner in most affectionate memory, and to this day not one thinks of it without the choking that comes from over-full emotion. It was more than a tribute to the days of old—it marked the passing of the old San Francisco and the inauguration of the new.
It was Bohemia's Swan Song, sung by those to whom San Francisco held more than pleasure—more than sentimentality. It held for them close-knit ties that nothing less than a worldshaking cataclysm could sever—and the cataclysm had arrived.
The old Coppa restaurant in Montgomery street became a memory and on its ashes came the new one, located in Pine street between Montgomery and Kearny streets, and for a number of years this remained the idol of Bohemia until changed conditions drove the tide of patronage far up toward Powell, Ellis, Eddy and O'Farrell streets. At that time there grew up a mushroom crop of so-called restaurants in Columbus avenue close to Barbary Coast such as Caesar's, the Follies Cabaret, Jupiter and El Paradiso, where space was reserved in the middle of the floor for dancing. Coppa emulated the new idea by fitting out a gorgeous basement room at the corner of Kearny and Jackson, which he called the Neptune Palace. It represented a great grotto under the ocean, and here throngs gathered nightly to dance and eat until the police commissioners closed all of these resorts, as well as Barbary Coast.
Coppa became financially injured by this venture and was forced to take a partner in his old restaurant, and finally gave up his share and went beyond the city limits and opened the Pompeiian Garden, on the San Mateo road, and there with his heroic little wife tried to rebuild his shrunken fortunes, leaving the historic restaurant with its string of black cats and its memorable pictures on the walls to less skilled hands. He struggled against hard times and at the time of this writing he, with his wife, their son and his wife, are giving the old-time dinners and trying to make the venture a success.
In the old days it was considered a feat of gormandizing to go through one of Coppa's dinners and eat everything set before you for one dollar. Notwithstanding the delicious dishes he prepared and the wonderful recipes, the quantity served was so great that one would have to be possessed of enormous capacity, indeed, to be able to say at the end of the meal that he had eaten all that was given him.
In his Pompeiian Garden Coppa still maintains his old reputation for most tasty viands and liberal portions, and if one desire to find the true Bohemian restaurant of San Francisco today, one that approaches the old spirit of the days before the fire, he need but go out to Coppa's and while he will not have his eyes regaled by the quaint drawings with which the old-time artists decorated the walls, nor the hurrying footsteps along the ceiling to the famous center table where sat some of the world's most notable Bohemians on their visits to San Francisco, nor the frieze of black cats around the cornice, nor the Bohemian verse, written under inspiration of "Dago red," he will find the same old cooking, done by Coppa himself.
We asked Coppa what he considered his best dish and he gave us the Irishman's reply by asking another question:
"What do you think of it?"
There are so many to choose from that our answer was difficult but we finally stopped at "Chicken Portola." It was then that the old smile came back to Coppa's face.
"Ah! Chicken Portola. That is my own idea. It is the most delicious way chicken was ever cooked."
This is the recipe as Coppa gave it to us, his little wife standing at his side and giving, now and then, a suggestion as Coppa's memory halted:
Chicken Portola a la Coppa
Take a fresh cocoanut and cut off the top, removing nearly all of the meat. Put together three tablespoonfuls of chopped cocoanut meat and two ears of fresh, green corn, taken from the cob. Slice two onions into four tablespoonfuls of olive oil, together with a tablespoonful of diced bacon fried in olive oil, add one chopped green pepper, half a dozen tomatoes stewed with salt and pepper, one clove of garlic, and cook all together until it thickens. Strain this into the corn and cocoanut and add one spring chicken cut in four pieces. Put the mixture into the shell of the cocoanut, using the cut-off top as a cover, and close tightly with a covering of paste around the jointure to keep in the flavors. Put the cocoanut into a pan with water in it and set in the oven, well heated, for one hour, basting frequently to prevent the cocoanut's burning.
A bare recital of the terms of the recipe cannot bring to the uninitiated even a suspicion of the delightful aroma that comes from the cocoanut when its top is lifted, nor can it give the slightest idea of the delicacy of the savor arising from the combination of the cocoanut with young chicken. It is not a difficult dish to prepare, and if you cannot get it at any of the restaurants, and we are sure you cannot, try it at home some time and surprise your friends with a dish to be found in only one restaurant in the world. If you desire it at Coppa's on your visit to San Francisco you will have to telephone out to him in advance (unless he has succeeded in getting back to the city, which he contemplates) so that he can prepare it for you, and, take our word for it, you will never regret doing so.
Coppa has many wonderful dishes to serve, and he delights so much in your appreciation that he is always fearful something is wrong if you fail to do full justice to his meal. He showed this one evening when he had filled a little party of us to repletion by his lavish provision for our entertainment, and nature rebelled against anything more. To us came Coppa in tears.
"What is the matter with the chicken, Doctor? Is it not cooked just right?"
It was with difficulty that we made him understand that there was a limit to capacity, and that he had fed us with such bountiful hand we could eat no more. Even now when we go to Coppa's we have a little feeling of fear lest we offend him by not eating enough to convince him that we are pleased.
Coppa's walls were always adorned with strange conceits of the artists and writers who frequented his place, and after a picture, or a bit of verse had remained until it was too familiar some one erased it and replaced it with something he thought was better. We preserved one written by an unknown Bohemian. We give it just as it was:
Through the fog of centuries, dim and dense, I sometimes seem to see The shadowy line of a backyard fence And a feline shape of me. I hear the growl, and yowl and howl Of each nocturnal fight, And the throaty stir, half cry, half purr Of passionate delight, As seeking an amorous rendezvous My ancient brothers go stealing Through the purple gloom of night.
I've seen your eyes, with a greenish glint; You move with a feline grace; And when you are pleased I catch the hint Of a purr in your throat and face. Then I wonder if you are dreaming, too, Of temples along the Nile, Where you yowled and howled, and loved and prowled, With many a sensuous wile, And borrowed the grace you own today From that other life in the far-away; And if such dreams beguile.
I know that you sit by your cozy fire, When shadows crowd the room, And my soul responds to an old desire To roam through the velvety gloom, So stealthily stealing, softly shod, My spirit is hurrying thence To the lure of an ancient mystic god, Whose magnet is intense, Where I know your soul, too, roams in fur, For I hear it call with a throaty purr, From the shadowy backyard fence.
Bohemia of the Present
San Francisco's care-free spirit was fully exemplified before the ashes of the great fire of 1906 were cold. On every hand one could find little eating places established in the streets, some made of abandoned boxes, others of debris from the burned buildings, and some in vacant basements and little store rooms, while a few enterprising individuals improvised wheeled dining rooms and went from one part of the city to another serving meals.
The vein of humor of irrepressible effervescence of spirit born of Bohemianism gave to these eating places high sounding names, and many were covered with witty signs which laughed in the face of Fate.
Fillmore became the great business street of the city now in ashes, and here were established the first restaurants of any pretensions, the Louvre being first to open an establishment that had the old-time appearance. This was on the corner of Fillmore and Ellis, and had large patronage, it being crowded nightly with men and women who seemed to forget that San Francisco had been destroyed. Thompson opened a large restaurant in O'Farrell street, just above Fillmore, and for two years or more did a thriving business, his place being noted for its good cooking and its splendid service. One of his waiters, Phil Tyson, was one of the earlier ones to go back into the burned district to begin business and he opened a restaurant called the Del Monte in Powell street near Market, but it was too early for success and closed after a short career.
Thompson enlisted others to join with him in opening a magnificent place under the new Flood building at the corner of Powell and Market street, but through faulty understanding of financial power Thompson was compelled to give up his interest and the place afterward closed. It has since been reopened under the name of the Portola-Louvre, where now crowds assemble nightly to listen to music and witness cabaret performances. Here, as well as in a number of other places, one can well appreciate the colloquial definition of "cabaret." That which takes the rest out of restaurant and puts the din in dinner. If one likes noise and distraction while eating such places are good to patronize.
Across the street from the Portola-Louvre at 15 Powell street is the modernized Techau Tavern now known as "Techau's". Here there is always good music and food well cooked and well served, and always a lively crowd during the luncheon, dinner and after-theatre hours. The room is not large but its dimensions are greatly magnified owing to the covering of mirrors which line the walls. This garish display of mirrors, and elaborate decoration of ceiling and pillars, gives it the appearance of the abode of Saturnalia, but decorum is the rule among the patrons.
Around at 168 O'Farrell street, just opposite the Orpheum theatre, is Tait-Zinkand restaurant, or as it is more popularly known, "Tait's". John Tait is the presiding spirit here, he having made reputation as club manager, and then as manager of the Cliff House. One of the partners here was Carl Zinkand, who ran the old Zinkand's before the fire.
While these three restaurants are of similar type neither has the pre-fire atmosphere. They are lively, always, with music and gay throngs, and serve good food.
One of the early restaurants established after the fire was Blanco's, at 857 O'Farrell street, and later Blanco opened the Poodle Dog in Mason street just above Eddy. Both of these restaurants are of the old French type and are high class in every respect. The Poodle Dog has a hotel attachment where one may get rooms or full apartments.
If you know how to order, and do not care to count the cost when you order, probably the best dinner at these restaurants can be had at either Blanco's or the Poodle Dog. The cuisine is of the best and the chefs rank at the top of their art. Prices are higher than at the other restaurants mentioned, but one certainly gets the best there is prepared in the best way.
But the same food, prepared equally well, is to be found in a number of less pretentious places. At the two mentioned one pays for the surroundings as well as for the food, and sometimes this is worth paying for.
The restaurants of the present day that approach nearest the old Bohemian restaurants of pre fire days, of the French class, are Jack's in Sacramento street between Montgomery and Kearny; Felix, in Montgomery street between Clay and Washington, and the Poodle Dog-Bergez-Franks, in Bush street between Kearny and Grant avenue. In either of these restaurants you will be served with the best the market affords, cooked "the right way." In Clay street opposite the California Market is the New Frank's, one of the best of the Italian restaurants, and much patronized by Italian merchants. Next to it is Coppa's, but it is no longer run by Coppa. In this same district is the Mint, in Commercial street between Montgomery and Kearny streets. It has changed from what it was in the old days, but is still an excellent place to dine.
Negro's, at 625 Merchant street, near the Hall of Justice, has quite a following of those whose business attaches them to the courts, and while many claim this to be one of the best of its class, we believe the claim to be based less on good cooking than on the fact that the habitues are intimate, making it a pleasant resort for them. The cooking is good and the variety what the market affords.
In Washington street, just off Columbus avenue, is Bonini's Barn, making great pretense through an unique idea. So far as the restaurant is concerned the food is a little below the average of Italian restaurants. One goes there once through curiosity and finds himself in a room that has all the appearance of the interior of a barn, with chickens and pigeons strutting around, harness hanging on pegs, and hay in mangers, and all the farming utensils around to give it the verisimilitude of country. Tables and chairs are crude in the extreme and old-time lanterns are used for lighting. It is an idea that is worth while, but, unfortunately, the proprietors depend too much on the decorative feature and too little on the food and how they serve it.
The Fly Trap, and Charlie's Fashion, the first in Sutter street near Kearny and the other in Market near Sutter, serve well-cooked foods, especially soup, salads, and fish. Of course these are not the entire menus but of all the well-prepared dishes these are their best. Felix, mentioned before, also makes a specialty of his family soup, which is excellent.
Spanish dinners of good quality are to be had at the Madrilena, at 177 Eddy street, and at the Castilian, at 344 Sutter street. Both serve good Spanish dinners at reasonable prices. They serve table d'hote dinners, but you can also get Spanish dishes on special order.
Under the Monadnock building, in Market street near Third, is Jule's, well liked and well patronized because of its good cooking and good service. Jule is one of the noted restaurateurs of the city, having attained high celebrity before the fire. His prices are moderate and his cooking and viands of the best, and will satisfy the most critical of the gourmets.
At the corner of Market and Eddy streets is the Odeon, down in a basement, with decorations of most garish order. There is a good chef and the place has quite a vogue among lovers of good things to eat. Probably at no place in San Francisco can one find game cooked better than at Jack's, 615 Sacramento street. His ducks are always cooked so as to elicit high praise. He has an old-style French table d'hote dinner which he serves for $1.25, including wine. Or you may order anything in the market and you will find it cooked "the best way." One of the specialties of Jack's is fish, for which the restaurant is noted. It is always strictly fresh and booked to suit the most fastidious taste.
As it is in Germany
When you see August (do not fail to pronounce it Owgoost) in repose you involuntarily say, that is if you understand German, "Mir ist alles an," which is the German equivalent of "I should worry." When August is in action you immediately get a thirst that nothing but a stein of cold beer will quench. August is the pride of the Heidelberg Inn at 35 Ellis street. All you can see from the street as you pass around the corner from Market, is a sign and some stairs leading down into a basement, but do not draw back just because it is a basement restaurant, for if you do you will miss one of the very few real Bohemian restaurants of San Francisco. Possibly our point of view will not coincide with that of others, but while there are dozens of other Bohemian restaurants there is but one Heidelberg Inn. Here is absolute freedom from irksome conventionality of other people, and none of the near Bohemianism of so many places claiming the title.
At the Heidelberg Inn one need never fear obtrusiveness on the part of other visitors, for here everybody attends strictly to his or her own party, enjoying a camaraderie that has all the genuine, whole-souled companionship found only where German families are accustomed to congregate to seek relaxation from the toil and worry of the day.
An evening spent in Heidelberg Inn is one replete with character study that cannot be excelled anywhere in San Francisco—and this means that everybody there is worth while as a study, from the little, bald-headed waiter, Heme, and the big, imposing waiter, August, to the "Herr Doctor" who comes to forget the serious surgical case that has been worrying him at the hospital. Here you do not find obtrusive waiters brushing imaginary crumbs from your chair with obsequious hand, nor over zealous stewards solicitous of your food's quality. It is all perfect because it is made perfect by good management. Here are German families, from Grossfader and Grossmutter, down to the newest grandchild, sitting and enjoying their beer and listening to such music as can be heard nowhere else in San Francisco, as they eat their sandwiches of limburger, or more dainty dishes according to their tastes.
One can almost imagine himself in one of the famous rathskellers of Old Heidelberg—not at the Schloss, of course, for here you cannot look down on the Weiser as it flows beneath the windows of the great wine stube on the hill. But you have the real atmosphere, and this is enhanced by the mottoes in decoration and the flagons, stems and plaques that adorn the pillars as well as typical German environment.
It is when the martial strains of "De Wacht am Rhein" are heard from the orchestra, which of itself is an institution, that the true camaraderie of the place is appreciated, for then guests, waiters, barkeepers, and even the eagle-eyed gray-haired manager, join in the swelling chorus, and you can well understand why German soldiers are inspired to march to victory when they hear these stirring chords.
But there is other music—sometimes neither inspiring nor beautiful when heard in a German rathskeller—the music of rag time. If there is anything funnier than a German orchestra trying to play rag-time music we have never heard it. It is unconscious humor on part of the orchestra, consequently is all the more excruciating.
But if you really love good music—music that has melody and rhythm and soothing cadences, go to the Heidelberg Inn and listen to the concert which is a feature of the place every evening. And while you are listening to the music you can enjoy such food as is to be found nowhere else in San Francisco, for it is distinctly Heidelbergian. We asked for the recipe that they considered the very best in the restaurant, and Hirsch, with a shrug of his shoulders, said: "Oh, we have so many fine dishes." We finally got him to select the one prized above all others and this is what Chef Scheiler gave us:
German Sauer Braten
Take four pounds of clear beef, from either the shoulder or rump, and pickle it for two days in one-half gallon of claret and one-half gallon of good wine vinegar (not cider). To the pickle add two large onions cut in quarters, two fresh carrots and about one ounce of mixed whole allspice, black peppers, cloves and bay leaves.
When ready for cooking take the meat out of the brine and put in a roasting pan. Put in the oven and brown to a golden color. Then take it out of the roasting pan and put it into a casserole, after sprinkling it with two ounces of flour. Put into the oven again and cook for half an hour, basting frequently with the original brine.
When done take the meat out of the sauce. Strain the sauce through a fine collander and add a few raisins, a piece of honey cake, or ginger snaps and the meat of one fresh tomato. Season with salt and pepper and a little sugar to taste. Slice and serve with the sauce over it.
For those who like German dishes and German cooking it is not necessary to confine yourself to the Heidelberg Inn, for both the Hof Brau, in Market just above Fourth street, and the German House Rathskeller, at Turk and Polk streets are good places where you can get what you want. The Hof Brau, however, is less distinctively German as the greater number of its patrons are Americans. The specialty of the Hof Brau is abalone's, and they have as a feature this shell fish cooked in several ways. They also have as the chef in charge of the abalone dishes, Herbert, formerly chef for one of the yacht clubs of the coast, who claims to have the only proper recipe for making abalone's tender. Under ordinary circumstances the abalone is tough and unpalatable, but after the deft manipulation of Herbert they are tender and make a fine dish, either fried, as chowder or a la Newberg. In addition to abalone's the Hof Brau makes a specialty of little Oregon crawfish. While there is a distinctive German atmosphere at the Rathskeller of the German House, the place is too far out to gather such numbers as congregate at either the Heidelberg or the Hof Brau, but one can get the best of German cooking here and splendid service, and for a quiet little "Dutch supper" we know of no place that will accommodate you better than the Rathskeller.
On special occasions, when some German society or club is giving a dance or holding a meeting at the German House, the Rathskeller is the most typical German place in San Francisco, and if you go at such a time you will get all the "atmosphere" you will desire, as well as the best the market affords in the way of good viands.
In the Heart of Italy
What a relief it is sometimes to have a good waiter say: "You do not know what you want? Will you let me bring you the best there is in the house?" Sometimes, you know, you really do not know what you want, and usually when that is the case you are not very hungry. That is always a good time to try new things. It is also possible that you do not know what you want because you do not know how to order. In either instance our advice is, if the waiter gets confidential and offers his assistance you will certainly miss something if you do not accept his good offices.
This was the case with us, one day when we were over at 1549 Stockton street, near Washington Square, at the Gianduja. The proper pronunciation of this is as if it were spelled Zhan-du-ya. This is one of the good Italian restaurants of the Latin quarter. At the Gianduja you get the two prime essentials to a good meal—good cooking and excellent service. It matters not whether you take their thirty-five cent luncheon or order a most elaborate meal, you will find that the service is just what it ought to be. We asked Brenti what he considered his most famous dish, and like all other proprietors, he shrugged his shoulders and said, with hands emphasizing his words:
"We have so many fine dishes."
"Of course we know that, but what do you consider the very best?"
"There is no one the 'very best'. I could give you two."
"Let it be two, then," was our immediate rejoinder, and here is what he gave us as the best recipes of the Gianduja.
First, let us give you an idea of the difficulty under which we secured these recipes by printing them just as he wrote them down for us, and then we shall elaborate a little and show the result of skillful questioning. This is the way he wrote the recipe for Risotto Milanaise:
Risotto ala Milanaise
"Onions chop fine—marrow and little butter—rice—saffron—chicken broth—wen cook add fresh butter and Parmesan cheese seasoned."
What was embodied in the words "wen cook" was the essential of the recipe and here is the way we got it:
Chop one large onion fine. Cut a beef marrow into small dice and stir it with the chopped onion. Put a small piece of butter in a frying pan and into this put the onion and marrow and fry to a delicate brown. Now add one scant cup of rice, stirring constantly, and into this put a pinch of saffron that has been bruised. When the rice takes on a brown color add, slowly, chicken broth as needed, until the rice is thoroughly cooked. Then add a lump of fresh butter about the size of a walnut, and sprinkle liberally with grated Parmesan cheese, seasoning to taste with pepper and salt. This is to be served with chicken or veal.
The second recipe was for Fritto Misto, and he wrote it as follows:
"Lamb chops and brains breaded—sweetbreads—escallop of veal—fresh mushrooms—Italian squash when in season—asparagus or cauliflower— fried in fresh butter—dipped in beaten eggs—lime jus."
"Fritto Misto" means fried mixture, and the recipe as we finally elucidated it is as follows:
Take a lamb chop, a piece of calf brain, one sweetbread, a slice of veal, a fresh mushroom, sliced Italian squash, a piece of asparagus or of cauliflower and dip these into a batter made of an egg well beaten with a little flour. Sprinkle these with a little lime juice and fry to a delicate brown in butter, adding salt and pepper to taste.
At the Gianduja, as at all other Italian restaurants not much affected by Americans, you will find an atmosphere of unconventionality that is delightful to the Bohemian. There is no irksome espionage on the part of other patrons, all of whom are there for the purpose of attending strictly to their own business, and the affairs of other diners are of no consequence to them. There is freedom of expression and unconsciousness, most pleasing after having experienced those other restaurants where it seems to be the business of all the rest of the guests to know just what you are eating and drinking. There is little of the obnoxious posing that one finds in restaurants of the downtown districts, for while Italians, in common with all other Latins, are natural born poseurs, they are not offensive in it, but rather impress you with the same feeling as the antics of a child.
One of the little, out-of-the way restaurants of the Italian quarter is the Leon d'Oro, at 1525 Grant avenue, and it is one of the surprises of that district. Lazzarini, he with the big voice, presides over the tiny kitchen in the rear of the room devoted to public service and family affairs. Soft-voiced Rita, with her demure air and her resemblance to Evangeline, with her crossed apron, strings and delicate features, takes your order, and soon comes the booming sound from the neighborhood of the range, that announces to all patrons, as well as to some who may be in the vicinity on the street, that your order is ready, and then everybody knows what you are eating. As you sit, either in curtained alcove or at the common table in the main room, little Andrea will visit you with his cat. Both are institutions of the place and one is, prone to wonder how a cat can have so much patience with a little boy. Andrea speaks Italian so fluently and so rapidly that it gives you the impression of a quick rushing stream of pure water, tumbling over the stones of a steep declivity. He is not yet old enough to understand that it is not everybody who knows how to speak Italian, but that makes not the slightest difference with him, for he talks without ever expecting an answer.
Lazzarini understands the art and science of cooking, and some of the dishes he prepares are so unusual that one goes again and again to partake of them: Possibly his best dish is the following:
Chicken a la Leon D'oro
Cut a spring chicken into pieces. Place these in a pan containing hot olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken until it is thoroughly browned, and add finely chopped green peppers. Let it cook awhile then add a finely chopped clove of garlic and a little sage. Put in a small glass of Marsala wine, tomato sauce and French mushrooms and let simmer for ten minutes. Before taking from the pan add half a tablespoonful of butter and serve on a hot plate.
Lazzarini also makes a specialty of snails, and they are well worth trying while you are experimenting with the unusual things to eat. The recipe for these is as follows:
Snails a la Bordelaise
Put ten pounds of snails in a covered barrel and keep for ten days. Then put in a tub with a handful of salt and a quarter of a gallon of vinegar. Stir for twenty minutes until a foam rises, then take out and wash thoroughly until the water runs clear. Put in a large pot a pint of virgin olive oil, four large onions and eight cloves of garlic, all chopped fine, and a small bunch of parsley, chopped fine. Put the pot over the fire and when the onions are browned stir in some white wine or Marsala and then put in the snails. Cover and let simmer for thirty-five minutes. While cooking add a pint of meat stock, a little butter and some anise seed. When done put in a soup tureen and serve. To remove the snails use small wooden toothpicks.
A Breath of the Orient
San Francisco's world-famed Chinatown, like the rest of the city, is changed since the big fire, and the Chinatown of today is but a reminiscence of the old Oriental city that was set in the midst of the most thriving Occidental metropolis—The City That Was. There has never been much of Chinatown that savored of Bohemianism, but it has always been the vogue for visitors to make a trip through its mysterious alleys, peering into the fearsome dark doorways, listening to the ominous slamming doors of the "clubs," and shuddering in a delightful horror at the recumbent opium smokers, pointed out to them by the industrious guide. And when they were taken into one of the gambling houses and shown the double doors, and the many contrivances used to prevent police interference with the innocent games of fan tan and then were shown the secret underground passage leading from one of the gambling houses to the stage of the great Chinese theatre, two blocks away, they went home ready to believe anything told them about "the ways that are dark and tricks that are vain," for they were sure "the heathen Chinee was peculiar."
Chinese restaurant life never appealed to Bohemians, and when it became necessary to entertain visitors with a trip to a Chinatown restaurant the ordinary service was of tea and rice cakes, served from lacquered trays, in gaudy rooms, and the admiring visitors could well imagine themselves in "far off Cathay."
Then came the fire and Chinatown, with the rest of the down-town portion of San Francisco, passed away. In the rebuilding the owners of the properties concluded to give the quarter a more Chinese aspect and pagoda like structures are now to be found in all parts of the section. The curiosity of the tourist is an available asset to Chinatown, and with queer houses and queerer articles on sale there is always plenty of uninitiated to keep the guides busy, but from a city of more than twenty-five thousand Orientals in the midst of an enlightened city—an Asiatic city that had its own laws and executed its criminals with the most utter disregard for American laws, it has changed into one of the most law-abiding parts of the great city. With the passing of the queue came the adoption of the American style of dressing, and much of the picturesqueness of the old Chinatown has disappeared.
But with the changed conditions there has come a change in the restaurant life of the quarter, and now a number of places have been opened to cater to Americans, and on every hand one sees "chop suey" signs, and "Chinese noodles." It goes without saying that one seldom sees a Chinaman eating in the restaurants that are most attractive to Americans. Some serve both white and yellow and others serve but the Chinese, and a few favored white friends.
Probably the best restaurant in Chinatown is that of the Hang Far Low Company, at 723 Grant avenue. Here is served such a variety of strange dishes that one has to be a brave Bohemian, indeed, to partake without question. Ordinarily when Chinese restaurants are mentioned but two dishes are thought of—chop suey and chow main. But neither is considered among the fine dishes served to Chinese epicures. It is much as if one of our best restaurants were to advertise hash as its specialty. Both these dishes might be termed glorified hash. The ingredients are so numerous and so varied with occasion that one is tempted to imagine them made of the table leavings, and that is not at all pleasant to contemplate.
We asked one of the managers at the Hang Far Low what he would order if he wished to get the best dish prepared in the restaurant, and he was even more emphatic in his shrugs than the French or Italian managers. He protested that there were so many good things it was impossible to name just one as being the best. "You see, we have fish fins, they are very good. Snails, China style. Very good, too. Then we have turtle brought from China, different from the turtle they have here, and we cook it China style. Eels come from China and they are cooked China style, too. What is China style? That I cannot tell you for the cook knows and nobody else. When we cook China style everything is more better. We have here the very best tea."
This may be taken as a sample of what to expect when visiting Chinatown's restaurants, and while we confess to having some excellent dishes served us in Chinatown, our preference lies in other paths of endeavor. We suppose it is all in the point of view, and our point of view is that there is nothing except superficiality in the ordinary Chinese restaurants frequented by Americans, and those not so frequented are impossible because of the average Chinaman's disregard for dirt and the usual niceties of food preparation.
We wish it were in our power to describe a certain dinner as served us in a Japanese restaurant in the days that followed the great fire. Desiring to observe in fitting manner a birthday anniversary, we asked a Japanese friend if he could secure admission for a little party at a restaurant noted for serving none but the highest class Japanese. We did not even know where the restaurant was but had heard of such a place, and when we received word that we would be permitted to have a dinner there we invited a newspaper friend who was in the city from New York, together with two other friends and the Japanese, who was the editor of the Soko Shimbun. He took us to a dwelling house in O'Farrell street, having given previous notice of our coming. There was nothing on the outside to indicate that it was anything but a residence, but when we were ushered into the large front room, we found it beautifully decorated with immense chrysanthemums, and glittering with silver and cut glass on a magnificently arranged table.
In deference to the fact that all but our Japanese friend were unaccustomed to chopsticks, forks were placed on the table as well as the little sticks that the Orientals use so deftly. At each place was a beautiful lacquer tray, about twelve by eighteen inches, a pair of chopsticks, a fork and a teaspoon. Before the meal was over several of us became quite expert in using the chopsticks.
When we were seated in came two little Japanese women, in full native costume, bearing a service of tea. The cups and saucers were of a most delicate blue and white ware, with teapot to match. Our first cup was taken standing in deference to a Japanese custom where all drank to the host. Then followed saki in little artistic bottles and saki cups that hold not much more than a double tablespoonful. Saki is the Japanese wine made of rice, and is taken in liberal quantities. At each serving some one drank to some one else, then a return of the compliment was necessary. Having always heard that Orientals turned menus topsy-turvy we were not at all surprised when the little serving women brought to each of us two silver plates and set them on our trays. These plates contained what appeared to be cake, one seeming to be angel food with icing, and the other fruit cake with the same covering. With these came bowls of soup, served in lacquer ware, made of glutinous nests of swallows, and also a salad made of shark fins. We ate the soup and salad and found it good, and then made tentative investigation of the "cake." To our great surprise we discovered the angel food to be fish and the "icing" was shredded and pressed lobster. The "fruitcake" developed into pressed dark meat of chicken, with an icing of pressed and glazed white meat of the same fowl.
Following this came the second service of tea, this time in cups of a rare yellow color and beautiful design, with similar teapot.
The next course was a mixture of immature vegetables, served in a sort of saute. These were sprouting beans, lentils, peas and a number of others with which we were unfamiliar. The whole was delicately flavored with a peculiar sauce.
After a short wait, during which the saki bottles circulated freely, one of the women came in bearing aloft a large silver tray on which reposed a mammoth crayfish, or California lobster. This appeared to be covered with shredded cocoanut, and when it was placed before the host for serving he was at loss, for no previous experience told him what to do. It developed that the shredded mass on top was the meat of the lobster which had been removed leaving the shell-fish in perfect form. It was served cold, with a peculiar sauce.
Now followed the piece de resistance. A tub of water was brought in and in this was swimming a live fish, apparently of the carp family. After being on view for a few minutes it was removed and soon the handmaidens appeared with thinly sliced raw fish, served with soy sauce. Ordinarily one can imagine nothing more repulsive than a dish of raw fish, but we were tempted and did eat, and found it most delicious, delicate, and with a flavor of raw oysters.