Mee Mee's Cow Ears and Coin Cookies, the Horror of Bycatch

Categories: Talking Points
Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

Mee Mee Bakery's macaroons.
1. Mee Mee's sweets. Rice Plate Journal, my block-by-block survey of Chinatown restaurants, is finally hitting the dense restaurant zone of Powell and Stockton streets. En route, I've been stopping in at Mee Mee Bakery (1328 Stockton), one of the neighborhood's fortune cookie factories. The 51-year-old bakery makes sesame and chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and mooncakes, as well as curly, cocoa-spiraled rounds called cow-ear snackers ($3.75), which taste like a cross between a fried wonton and a fortune cookie. 

Mee Mee's almond macaroons, pressed together in pairs (50 cents a pair) are just as good as the ones at Victoria Bakery just over the border into North Beach, but if I head back there, it'll probably be for the plain coin cookies -- miniature, unfolded fortune cookies, all crunch and no paper, a guilty pleasure. Hey, at least they're a San Francisco original

2. The tragedy of bycatch. Read through the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch list, and you see the word "bycatch" a lot -- fish and other marine animals unintentionally caught by commercial fishing boats that are thrown back, dead, into the water. In New York magazine, Tom Gogola recounts his experience working on a boat, when he was warned at the tons (literally) of prime fish -- some offseason or too young, but many simply not the species the boat had permission to fish that day -- he was going to have to toss. "Do your job, shut your mouth, collect your money," his mentor told him. "We had around a 100-pound bycatch limit on the monk[fish], and on every dip I was ruefully shoveling at least twice that amount back into the ocean." He blames regulatory quotas, not greed, on the waste of so much edible fish.

3. Does this annoy you? The Chicago Tribune's food writers put together a list of the most annoying things waiters say to them. Taking issue with some of the sayings ("Hi, my name is X and I'll be your waiter for the night") makes the annoyed person seem a little thin-skinned.

But I'm with Shamontiel L. Vaughn, who is put off by being asked, "Do you need change?" when throwing down a $20 for a $7 entree. And responding to the question "Do you have any recommendations?" with "Everything is good here!" immediately disqualifies you as a reliable source of information. At least in my book.

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Hello there, I saw you in my Google alerts for my name (I'm Shamontiel). Good to read you're co-signing with me about the "change" issue. Thing is that I really liked the server and I understand that making money for a waitress can be hard, but greed can make even the best server look somehow less attractive. I hope she doesn't try that trick on everyone. My grandfather is a big tipper, but if I was paying, my tip would've been a little less for that comment alone. I shook my head at her for that one, but it was already done by that point. Oh, and I actually didn't agree with the "recommendations" comment. I talked to a couple colleagues about that one. I don't ask for recommendations because I don't feel like the waiter can give me an unbiased opinion. If she/he's friends with the cook(s), then the waiter will compliment everything (as you mentioned). But the other side of that is I've had waiters recommend something to me and I didn't care for it or if I did like it, they kept coming back to talk about it so then I felt obligated to tip higher. I dunno. I want to tip on service, not personal opinion.

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