Mission #3: Tamale Superhero

Note: The 2010 scavenger hunt is over (a concluding post will come soon) and we got first place out of 121 teams! This is a series explaining the background and thinking of our missions of the SF Street Food Scavenger Hunt 2010!

Mission: The tamale from Whole Tortilla gives you superpowers! Whether it’s feeding the homeless or stopping bank robbers, show us your best superhero pose!

I don’t know how I got the idea—perhaps it was Cynthia. But I realized that I had to use ComicLife. I had used to previously for demonstrating scenarios while at CMU. But this…oh yes!

I investigated how to get Whole Tortilla, but to my chagrin, Whole Tortilla was only available on Sunday. At the Jack London Farmer’s Market. When I had already made a difficult slotting of a lunch with my family. It was impossible unless I sent my DFT comrades. Could I force my comrades to do such a task? But wait according to the website, they were at a local store, Lillah Belle. I rushed over in the morning. I scanned the entire store, which was full of super-expensive organic meals that I could make easier and cheaper even by buying organic ingredients. But it turned out that they did not carry Whole Tortilla tamales.

“Nobody bought them so I stopped making orders,” the woman at the counter said without looking up from her newspaper.

A few hours later, I had an idea. I called the Whole Tortilla number…and it turned out that she lived close to me. I rushed over and picked up several tortillas.

Final Superhero

Mission #2: Kitchen Disaster

Note: The 2010 scavenger hunt is over (a concluding post will come soon) and we got first place out of 121 teams! This is a series explaining the background and thinking of our missions of the SF Street Food Scavenger Hunt 2010!

Mission: Show us your best kitchen disaster

I had multiple ideas after asking Facebook point blank:

  • The watermelon ball cocktail disaster inspired by Set Phasers on Stun human factors textbook
  • Deep fryer explosion
  • Fire from the oven
  • Hand on fire
  • However, Chris and I determined that it was either unsafe (for a real photoshoot) or required too much photochopping (how do I set my hand on fire in photoshop again?)

    Cynthia suggested the idea of cramming too much people in the kitchen—the idea of too many chefs in the kitchen.

    This is the process that I took:

    1. Study too many people in a photo booth and too many chefs in the kitchen photos.
    2. Invite people over (via facebook).
    3. Buy snacks.
    4. Hope that inviting people for this event would surface this hunt to their consciousness.
    5. Create the picture.

    Although 5 people showed up, it was a fun experience with all of us ending up watching Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef.

    Kitchen Disaster 2

    Along the way, we decided to make it Twinkie oriented to reflect our team’s name. We placed a Twinkie everywhere and put Toad in the picture. A Twinkie in the pan, in the blender, everywhere.


    And then we finally had Jeff saute a Twinkie with everyone trying to add their own flavor to the Twinkie. Seems like Chris is the only one that got it in. Not sure what Cynthia is doing with the pineapple.


    Mission #1: Yummy in my Oratory

    Note: The 2010 scavenger hunt is over (a concluding post will come soon) and we got first place out of 121 teams! This is a series explaining the background and thinking of our missions of the SF Street Food Scavenger Hunt 2010!

    I don’t even remember what the original mission said. But it was first about a 80s band. Then a popular track…that somehow we figured out to be Caravan (thanks Joe). The mission said that it started with K and to go to the mobile lounge of deliciousness and do an epic scene.

    When I realized that it was referring to Karavan, I knew what I had to do. I quickly emailed the friend who I planned to have lunch that Friday at the Moxise-sponsored Street Eats…because…I knew that Kara’s Cupcakes was visiting. I described my plight, apologizing that I was a little bit insane as part of the SF Street Food Scavenger Hunt…and that I would have to do something crazy while she watched. All for an “epic scene”.

    I had met Cynthia a total of 4 times in my consciousness—at a reunion last year, once at Palo Alto Caltrain Station, another at a mutual friend’s BBQ, and finally at a happy hour. Barely what you would call “friends”…and here she was!

    She emailed back shortly…with a script inspired by the first scenes in 2001: Space Odyssey.


    OVER BLACK, theme to “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

    At first musical impact, CUT IN to concrete background. Plain, uniform, boring.

    Second musical impact: a cupcake RISES SLOWLY from seemingly nowhere. Rising, rising, until finally, it stops. The audience takes a collective breath. What is this amazing cupcake doing here? What is about to happen to this glorious cupcake?

    Suddenly, a head enters the frame. SLOWLY AND DELIBERATELY MOVES towards the cupcake and TAKES A LARGE BITE, smearing gooey frosting all over their nose. With various crumbs clinging to their lips, the head TAKES A SECOND BITE, then A THIRD. Now, the mouth is full of delicious cupcake. So good, so tasty.

    Triumphantly, the mouth captures the last bit of cupcake-y goodness, swallows, and basks in the amazing feeling that can only follow after devouring a cupcake in four bites.


    I was so thrilled.

    And when Friday, came around, I came with a backup plan. But we’re all set. I roped Chris into in it. I had gathered all my props—our whole collection of stuffed animals, random props…

    It was warm…and I gulped down a gumbo from the Louisiana Truck. If had been any other Friday, I would have enjoyed it more, but it was up to me…to engulf the entire cupcake.

    We spent several minutes behind the Karavan setting up with Chris cheering me on and Cynthia recording the entire thing on my handy Canon Powershot S90.

    Because I read the rules, I decided that we could not use the 2001 soundtrack (although I balked later for other missions) and that we had to create our own. Both Chris and I “sang” the track. Fortunately, we decided that my attempt was not suitable for the general public (aka I was doing a public service for not sharing my horrible singing).

    Then I spent the weekend trying to find out how I could get a cupcake flying in the air. This is why we had a stunt cupcake. Purchased for $1 two years when Mervyn’s was going out of business in Daly City.

    I did engulf the entire cupcake. With paper. It was the strawberry flavor, FYI.

    I would say incredible…had it been incredible…

    Photos to come shortly of course.

    Last weekend was filled with:

  • Achievement of FIRST PLACE
  • The massive consumption of street food at the Street Food Festival
  • The incredible bidding for the La Cocina Silent Auction
  • Meeting the other teams who took part in the scavenger hunt
  • An amazing (short) hike through Tilden Park
  • Great ice cream at Tara’s in Berkeley
  • There’s some great people in San Francisco…and then there are not some. But more to come in the next few posts about my experience on the Street Food Scavenger Hunt this year.

    Ok, I guess that I can’t be president anymore

    It suddenly occurred to me. With all this posting of wearing hats of chicken feet, of singing crazy pseudo-French songs, screaming about 364…

    Wouldn’t this put me out of the running for the presidency?

    Wouldn’t the opposing party…perhaps 20 years later…dig up this fantastic data—videos, photos and say to everyone…



    Certainly not!

    Well, it’s not that I want to be president. Rather I would like to have the option.

    In this amazing world of technology, my past can catch up to me. But will you find photos of me doing anything illegal? Probably not. Mostly, you will find me with facial expressions, singing out of tune, stuttering…doing things outside of my usual personality.

    And thus today is the second to last day of the scavenger hunt. Yes there is craziness…yes there is ridiculousness…and major spammage of Facebook.

    But hey at least I know that I won’t be president!

    Be sure to vote for us by Liking us! We’re about a few hundred points from first place!

    And here we are again!

    I am once again participating in the scavenger hunt. Perhaps doing what I foretold.

    This year, it’s more…crazy adventures with food…kitchen disasters…puzzle solving…massive moments of embarrassment. But this time, (rather than just a piece of paper and a t-shirt) there are whispers of prizes. A three course dinner perhaps? Food? Who knows…but the most important part is that…we need you!

    Vote for us here.

    Click a photo, then click Like!

    And perhaps you may see more of this:

    Meat hat


    Superhero Tamale

    How do you know when you just…click?

    There are some people you meet…


    instant connection.

    You suddenly want to be around them. Because they make you feel good. Or well at least they make you want to be a better person.

    But then there are other times, perhaps that it’s too loud (people talking, music, who knows…), you make small talk…it fails…it is awkward.

    But the instant success is when you’re at loud party and the conversation that you’re having is incredibly interesting. This is where I want to reference the tips that I found from The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists.

    When anxiety is consuming

    Suddenly with the onset of anxiety (an upcoming presentation, a person you’re potentially meeting, the dread of being blamed, the worry that you lost something)…

    it is consuming.

    It takes over every single through. You can’t cook, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep. The worry settles deep inside your stomach. It settles all through the muscles, cursing down your veins and then circulating back to your head through the life-saving arteries. Your eyes are bulging.

    Then perhaps perhaps…something, someone helps you overcome it. Perhaps it’s a movie. Perhaps it’s a drink. Most likely, it’s an activity. You pause the anxiety for a moment. And for a moment, it doesn’t exist. Because your attention is elsewhere.

    When the moment returns, it’s back. But perhaps it better now. You have better cognitive dissonance…and the anxiety hopefully fades away.

    But by now, the anxiety is so consuming that it exhausts you. And you fall into a fitful sleep because you no more energy left to think about the anxiety. Perhaps the best sleep? Maybe only if in your mind, you stumble upon a solution in your dreams.

    A meme: Saturday 6

    Having had a slight pang of nostalgia for my blogging days closely knit to an online community…I shall do a blog meme!

    From the Saturday Six:

    Name 6 things that you would add at the top of your bucket list?

    1. See the town where my father was born near Canton, China
    2. Visit Lima, Peru where my grandfather spent the majority of his professional life
    3. Deliver a talk at a conference that is convincing and admirable
    4. Go on a safari
    5. Do the Lord of the Rings tour
    6. Change one person’s life

    Why do you subject yourself to this?

    Good question.

    The original impetus for the question?

    This video:

    This picture:


    And because the Street Food Scavenger Hunt is beginning again!

    Reasons why I must subject myself to this:

    1. As much as an introvert that I am, I love performing.
    Remember that online personality test (the website that was before okcupid…thespark?), against all odds, I consistently tested as a performer. Granted, it’s not my immediate personality. But I have this deep-seated harbored desire to…perform. When I took improv classes in 2007, I loved it. Although there’s definitely a side of me that hates being the center of attention, there’s this side that craves it, lusts after it…and will do anything for it. If it’s to entertain people or to make people think differently.

    2. I have this insatiable desire to create
    Once I was old enough to figure out the video camera, I latched upon it. I was the one in the family who came up with random ideas for film. Writing scripts. Doing a rendition of Alanis Morisette’s Ironic (I should find that VHS and digitize it…and get it on YouTube!) Stories. I have pent-up creativity that nowadays only manifests in short bursts like on this blog, cooking…and things like this. For now at least, this can be my creative outlet.

    3. I want to make sure that I can look back on my life and say…I did something
    Sure…I want to be known for something. That crazy San Franciscan who did multiple scavenger hunts in one year. But it’s not that. I often look back at my college years in stark amazement…that I did almost nothing beyond Rescomp, getting a bachelors and starting a blogging club. Granted, I am sure tons of other people feel the same way. My many regrets in life right now are the things that I did not do in college—study abroad, join more clubs, explore my interests in organizations, seek out support, take extra classes. Instead, many hours were wasted away…thinking about how I couldn’t do them. No, my years in SF are to be something great. Right now.