Watching a drunken elderly Chinese man hand crank an old horn, smiling and cheering the whole time, started off our Sunday morning. We were sitting with hundreds (thousands?) of other soccer fans, ranging from "fair-weather" to die-hard jersey clad. Dolores Park was the setting, and it felt gleeful, happy, and exciting to be there. A giant screen was set up for the broadcast and it was free to all, although donation boxes made the rounds a few times. The ratio of French to Italian flags favored France. The Italians were elsewhere: I found out later that many were in North Beach, at places like Steps of Rome, Macaroni Grill and the San Francisco Brewing Company.
We brought Dianda's Italian American pastries (raspberry rings, raisin rolls, and apple turnovers) and Corona beer to tide us over til the match was over, after lunch. The liquor store was sold out of Italian beer, so Corona fit the bill of cold, light and refreshing. David & Anna were our links to the group, which also included other SF folks in their twenties and thirties. Someone said Amanda Berne would be joining us. She writes the Inside Scoop column for the San Francisco Chronicle. We used to talk often in cooking school when she worked in the vast library there. She's smart and sweet, and a whiz in the kitchen-we've catered together.
Our sweets balanced the offerings of Kettle salt and pepper potato chips, hummus, Tostitos, edamame, cherries, sandwiches, champagne, juice, water, vodka, and more beer. The organizers announced over and over the rules: no drinking alcohol or parking on the left side of the street. Breaking the law was easy because there were only two cops on patrol to cite drinkers. Strategy was simple: keep an eye out for the cops, who only made their way through the outer edges of the masses. I tucked a bottle under my bare leg a few times when a cop was within thirty feet.
Because Mexico is out of the World Cup, our allegiance fell to Italy, who David has been rooting for all along. He promised he'd bring a "real Italian" and his feisty, spirited Mom showed up later. It was fun to watch and ultimately join them in cheering, despairing and finally jumping up and down over the game. I guess we ran out of champagne, because David's Mom sprayed a small bottle of beer on those standing close enough to David. I liked the cold liquid after hours in the hot sun, but the smell stayed in my hair the rest of the day. A reminder of all that beer, soccer, and excitement.
Our next stop: cab it to North Beach, where throngs of Italians jumped up and down, cheered, sang, danced and smiled. It looked fun but I was hungry and needed real food. The idea of eating standing up in a bar didn't appeal to me the way it did Oscar. We signed up for a table at North Beach Pizza, where we waited and waited. The scowls and shrugs we exchanged with each other! My sister in law Claudia was a good buffer, and reminded us we were just hungry and grumpy. Once we were seated and our Ceasar Salad and Large Pepperoni-Sausage pie arrived, it was all good in the neighborhood. The wonders of pizza after a half day baking and drinking in the sun....