When Gray & Nameless learn how much rich Chinese culture there is in San Francisco’s own Chinatown, they set out on a journey to experience the city’s diversity by exploring its many ethnic neighborhoods.
On Monday, Gray & Nameless were delighted to receive a phone call from their dear friend Mr. Boo. Mr. Boo invited them to lunch in his neighborhood, Chinatown, and even offered to give them a personal tour!
They were so excited to see Mr. Boo — AND get a tour of Chinatown — that they ran the whole way there. Even up the hills!
“Look, there’s Mr. Boo now!” Gray & Nameless found Mr. Boo just where he said he’d be: outside his shop, selling souvenirs to tourists who wanted a remembrance of their trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Mr. Boo showed Gray & Nameless lots of pretty things that came from China.
He also showed them lots of Chinese art!
One store sold all sorts of Chinese herbs and dried plants that Gray & Nameless had never seen before. “How do they make it so pretty INSIDE the jar, Mr. Boo?”
Another store sold foods new to Gray & Nameless in all sorts of bright, pretty packages. Speaking of food…
SNACKTIME!!! Mr. Boo took Gray & Nameless to his favorite restaurant in Chinatown, where they enjoyed “Dim Sum” for the first time. “Delicious!”
Gray & Nameless were far too excited to nap after their fun-filled day with Mr. Boo. “Chinatown is a whole different world, and yet it’s so close! There must be more nearby neighborhoods that are home to other cultures and traditions, Gray.” “I’ll bet you’re right, Nameless. Lets find out where they are, and visit all of them!”
So Gray & Nameless learned that indeed, there are many ethnic neighborhoods they could explore in San Francisco. The only hard part was deciding which one to visit first!
Gray & Nameless started with the Mission District, the vibrant neighborhood that is home to San Francisco’s Latino culture.
They quickly lost count of all the markets selling fresh produce and colorful crafts.
Of course it isn’t a visit to the Mission without a snack at one of its many taquerias!
“After all that walking in the sunshine — and now a belly full of food — I sure could use a nap, Gray.” “Me too, Nameless. But here in the Mission district, it’s called a ‘Siesta’!”
Next up: Japantown (or “Nihonmachi”), where many Japanese people moved to after much of San Francisco was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.
San Francisco was presented with a Peace Pagoda in 1968 by its sister city, Osaka. “Peace Plaza” is home to many Japanese cultural events. Such as…
“Mochitsuki!” It’s a mochi-pounding ceremony. Gray & Nameless had never heard of mochi, a delicious traditional Japanese treat made of rice and sometimes filled with bean paste. “Look, Nameless, there are people banging on drums over there!”
Look over there! They’re pounding out the mochi to the beat of the drum, Gray!”
Their next stop was obvious: MOCHI!!!
Finally, a souvenir: Jananese animation, or “Anime”! Gray & Nameless had a hard time deciding which one they wanted most, there was so much to choose from!
It was a beautiful day out when Gray & Nameless headed to Washington Square Park in North Beach, the Italian neighborhood. There they saw the famous Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Fun fact: Many people think that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio (an Italian-American who grew up in North Beach) were married at this church. But they were really married at City Hall in San Francisco.
ray & Nameless hiked all the way up Telegraph Hill, home to the historic landmark Coit Tower. They also had the most majestic view of the entire bay area! “Here’s another fun fact, Gray, The name ‘Telegraph Hill’ stems from earlier days when a semaphore was used to signal the arrival of a ship through the Golden Gate.” “Nameless, what’s a ‘semaphore’?”
At every turn, Gray & Nameless could smell delicious Italian food cooking, and see the markets that sold the ingredients for classic Italian dishes. Many of the markets have been owned by the same families for several generations!
They were eager to learn how to play “Bocce Ball,” a game with roots that date back to the Roman Empire. They waited and waited. But sadly, no one was there to play that day. “I know just the thing to cheer us up, Nameless…”
A snack, or “Uno spuntino”!!! So Gray & Nameless went to one of the many Italian Coffee Houses that North Beach is famous for, and shared their first cappuccino & biscotti!
In the Inner Richmond district, home to descendants of many “White Russian” Immigrants (those who opposed the Bolsheviks in Russia’s civil war), Gray & Nameless saw an Orthodox Church. It looked very different than the Catholic Church in North Beach. Fun Fact: Each dome-shaped ceiling is called a “cupola”, and is meant to represent the sky.
Gray & Nameless spent much of the day trying to read the Russian writing on the church sign — never once noticing that they were trying to read it upside-down!
Not surprisingly, Gray & Nameless were drawn to the pretty packages of food in the local market. “I guess that’s one thing all cultures share, Gray. A love of snacks.” “I can certainly understand that, Nameless!”
Next up, Gray & Nameless paid a visit to one of San Francisco’s growing ethnic neighborhoods, the Vietnamese “Little Saigon.”
There, they saw an awful lot of signs for something called “Pho.”
But Gray & Nameless agreed that their favorite neighborhood was the colorful Western Addition. People were especially friendly to them there!
Not only were the streets filled with the sounds of lively conversation, even the walls and fences carried messages from the residents of the Western Addition. Most of them were notes of praise to the beloved community, neighbors, and friends. And so pretty!
o Gray & Nameless pulled up a chair in the sunshine and joined the conversation!
Barber Kevin thought Gray & Nameless might be getting awful hot outside, and invited them to join the conversation inside. They never laughed so — Kevin had the funniest stories!
Gray & Nameless thoughtfully took the time from their “world travel” to send a postcard to their dear friend, Mr. Boo.
On the journey home, Gray & Nameless were absolutely exhausted from all the fun and adventure! So they decided to find a comfy spot in the park and take a long, long nap.
And when they got home, Gray & Nameless invited their dear friend Mr. Boo over for tea (bought in Chinatown!), and to thank him for inspiring them to venture out and learn about other countries and cultures on their “World Tour” of San Francisco!