As we drove down mission street trying to find parking close to our meeting spot at Balmey Alley and 24th, I sat in the back seat of the car staring at this random grassy hill off in the distance. It was such a lush deep shade of green and it seemed to set the mood for what was to come of our class field trip to the mission. It was calming and somewhere I really excited to be at the same time.
Balmey Alley is the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. The murals began in the mid 80’s when artists’ needed to express their indignation for human and political injustices that were going on in Central America.
The murals are beautiful and are made to express something to the person viewing it; whether it is as obvious as simply painting Frida Kahlo alongside her husband or a piece filled with different shapes that create a whirlwind of vibrant colors, the artist is trying to communicate something important to world. With each stroke of paint that artist is releasing their position, their stance, their opinion for people to absorb, learn from and maybe even act upon.
When we were done documenting every square inch of the alley we walked around the corner to Taqueria Vallarta, an authentic Mexican taqueria. I ordered a vegetarian burrito filled with avocado, rice, pinto beans, sour cream and salsa all wrapped up in a big flour tortilla. I know, its not the most authentic Mexican meal but it was so good. In fact outside of northern Mexico, burritos are not common in traditional Mexican cuisine and only might be seen in some non-traditional venues South of the Boarder.
As I look back at what I ordered I feel like I should have thought about the experience a little more and ordered some of the authentic Mexican tacos that were in the front of the restaurant tempting people strolling by; two corn tortillas, carne asada, cilantro, red onion and a little salsa. mmmmm
We then walked a couple blocks to Mission Pie a local bakery and cafe specializing in pies by the slice and taking ingredients from local farms. Even though the Mission Pie website says that it “encourages urban folks toward intimacy with their food through live relationships with the people and places that grow our ingredients.” I think we can all agree, that statement went as far as the text on the website, if their banana cream pie wasn’t effing amazing I honestly wouldn’t step foot in the place again. Oh well.
My hw assignment for ESF was to use food to tell a story about the mission or to use the mission to tell a story about food. When Silver (my professor) said this I immediately thought that there isn’t a way to choose one to define the other, they simply go hand in hand explaining and evolving each other; just as we did as a class and the many people that live and experience it everyday use it to define themselves within their culture, gender, ethnicity, residence and identity.
There’s just something about the Mission.