Monday, August 19, 2013

Off the Map: The Moral of the Story Is We Don't Like Green Papaya

Green Papaya Salad -- Out the Door, San Francisco, CA
Out the Door

The good thing about our propensity for day drinking is that it makes us many degrees more chipper and jolly for at least an hour or two.
Why, HELLO San Francisco! Lovely to See You This Fine Day!
The bad thing about our propensity for day drinking is that it also makes us VERY TIRED.
Ugh, Miles to Go Eating Our Way Through This Building Before We Sleep
Now, in our normal lives, this is no problem whatsoever -- we go out for a mid-day cocktail, stumble back home hours before sunset, and spend the rest of the day in various states of "rest."  When we are in San Francisco with an eighteen-page itinerary, however, this pattern is not so easy to maintain.
Too Tired to Find Out the Door... Which Is DIRECTLY Next to the "You Are Here" Star
Therefore, by the time we reach the Ferry Building to consume our next Best Thing I Ever Ate dish, we are 10:00pm tired at 2:00 in the afternoon.  We maneuver around the vendors without enthusiasm, until we find the Hog Island Oyster Company, where we are looking to consume Tyler Florence's favorite Kumamoto oysters.
Raise Your Hand If You Like Oysters. ::We Stand Like Statues::
The bad news that they're not serving those particular oysters.  FAIL, Hog Island!  Shame on you!

The good news is that we HATE oysters, so all is not lost.
Time to Bring On the Green Papaya... Though We're Not Sure How Much We Like That Either
Continuing our march down the Ferry Building, we pull up in front of Out the Door and without so much as consulting the posted menu, order the green papaya salad, as chosen by Chris Cosentino on the WITH FRUIT episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate.
Chris Cosentino Has Not Been Batting 1,000 With Us on This Blog... Good Luck to You, Chris
We take our rather giant plastic container of salad, place ourselves at the two counter stools directly next to the cash register, and open the top to see what our poor, tired, full selves are up against.

And what we find is at least a full pound of green papaya.
Um, Is This Smattering to the Right Considered the Rest of the "Salad"?
Now, prior to this excursion, neither of us had ever tasted green papaya (or more aptly, if we had tasted it, we didn't know what it was).  In fact, we only recognize it at all in this concoction because there is just SO MUCH of it that it is the only possible ingredient that makes sense.
When in Doubt, Assume the Mound of String Is Green Papaya
On top of the mountain of papaya are assorted toppings, most of which we are incapable of identifying.  Ginger leans in for a closer look.

"Oh!  It's tofu!" she exclaims.

"Where's tofu?" Vodka, who let's just say does not consider tofu one of her five main food groups, asks.

Ginger points to some fried bits of white substance decorating the top of the salad.  
Oh, Well NOW This Salad Is Looking Up... NOT
We pour on a smidgen of the provided dressing, attempt to mix the salad up (no easy feat, what with the preponderance of the stupid papaya), and lift mouthfuls up with our chopsticks.
What Is With the Proportions Being WAY OFF in This Town?
"Tastes like soap," Ginger says nonchalantly, before, in proof that her mother must have fed her Ivory bars as a child, she dives back in for another bite.
One Bar of Soap a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Vodka is decidedly less open toward the salad, grimacing as she places her chopsticks back in the container.  Not only is the green papaya itself overwhelming everything else, but it's not even something that tastes good.  We were expecting something sweeter -- FRUITIER, if you will -- and this is just, well, reminiscent of something you'd find in your shower.
If We Put the Lid Back on This Thing, Can We Return It?
After a few more bites, Ginger pipes up with, "I only like the toppings."  She carefully attempts to pick out a shaving of carrot, and then clumsily tries to use her chopsticks to chase down the peanut grounds which are uncontaminated by the papaya.
Might You Have Anything On Your Menu That Doesn't Taste Like a Used Washcloth?
"I don't even like them," Vodka says, spitting out a piece of fried tofu, as if to hammer home her point.  To Vodka, everything in this salad tastes like one of two things: nothing, or horrible.  Ginger is slightly less hostile, which is the only reason we have deigned to give it 2 stars instead of 1.  But Vodka pretty much correctly sums up our experience at Out the Door with the following phrase: "There's not a hot chance in hell I'd go near this again."
So In Sum, We Ate About 1/50 of Our Papaya Serving
As we pack up the three-quarters remainder of our salad, including an almost full container of dressing (which, to be fair, could be good on other things.  But NOT on this green papaya junk), a mother approaches the cash register with her multitude of children and starts ordering items willy-nilly.  As we stand to leave, she points at our salad and asks what it is, the subtext being that she's about to order it for herself.
RUN, Lady! Save Yourself!
"It's not good," Vodka says without actually providing an answer.  And if nothing else, at least we are saving San Francisco citizens from the horrors of this faulty salad, one nasty green papaya at a time.

Out the Door's Green Papaya Salad: 2 stars

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