Photography by Erin Kunkel

I’m from the South but have been living in San Francisco for the past five years. One of the first things I had to learn when moving here—after tackling the recycling/garbage/compost bins—was how to read a menu. The major differences:

1. A menu in SF is typically one page. There’s no point in flipping the menu over because there's rarely "a other side" and you look naive thinking there is.

2. Don’t get too attached to a dish because chances are it’ll be gone the next time you make the rounds. It's that uber seasonal thing, unlike gumbo, which is pretty much good all the time.

3. And, the one I really battle with, there's no real menu seduction. Plainly put, many menus lack mojo. Dishes are typically described by listing the crops that went into the recipe, rather than something I might be tempted to eat. I’m not saying the food isn’t delicious, only that, you should romance me a little. All I need is an adjective or the mention of a fat used (olive oil, hand-churned butter; I also find the word "melted" "cheese" and "roasted" go a long way).

This saddens me and fills me with questions:

Huh? Make me want it. Just a little.

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