I moved to Vallejo in the summer of 2002. This is not to say that this is my first time here. My father, just a teenager in the early 40’s, moved here with his mother, my grandmother, and his brother during the early part of the war. Her sister, my father’s aunt, who had moved here the year before, convinced her sister to close up shop, pack up the boys and ‘Go West.’ “There are jobs to be had on Mare Island,” she said, “good jobs.” My father’s father, my grandfather, was a late draftee in the war and came to Vallejo later, sometime in 1946.
The house where I now live, and happily call home, is where my father’s aunt resided since 1946. The house built in 1942, was purchased originally by a man from Nebraska whose parting comment, upon selling to my father’s aunt, was, “I don’t want to live next to that much water again,” and headed back to the Great Central Plains. And so she became only the second owner, keeping the house until her passing in 2002.
I remember visiting my grandparents on Fairmount Ave, at a time when you could purchase fireworks on Admiral Callaghan Lane. We, my father’s family, meaning me, my siblings and my mother of course, spent countless summers and holidays in that cozy stucco frame. Cousins and friends, and friends of family and family of friends all gathered around the barbecue or the Christmas table. There was always room and we were never short of food.
In my heart of hearts I would have to admit before God and everyone that my love of food and cooking came from my grandmother. My mother tells the story of a time when we children were little and the cupboards were bare yet somehow my grand-mama dug deep and whipped up one of the best meals my mother ever had. My personal experience? Thanksgiving turkey bird, mashed potatoes, stuffing and homemade cranberry sauce. Now I must tell you that I studied at the California Culinary Academy with the idea of showing off to my country cooking grand-mum. Even then, toque on top and apron wrapped, she bested me in three out of three. Truth to tell, I’m okay with it. All legends are based in fact and G-ma’s cooking was legendary to me.
In 2002 Vallejo was known for just a few things, mostly surrounding Mare Island. Shortly after I settled here the Great Recession took hold and we were awarded a notorious moniker which follows us still. Mare Island and the Name That Shall Not Be Named is all anyone knows of us. Napa has wine, The Silicon Valley has Google, San Francisco the Giants and Oakland the A’s. Well I think it is time that Vallejo be known for something else entirely. A thing derived of passion and crafted with care. The very substance that extends mortality itself. I believe V-Town should be known to the world, wait for it, . . . for its food. Yep, there it is, I said it. We should be known for our food. I trust that many of you, gentle readers, will agree. To this end I write this blog, to celebrate the artistry and passion with which each dish I consume contains.
Each week I will venture out to try one restaurant in V-Town and write to you of my experience. I hope that you follow my journey and find my writings to be of interest, and together we shall make up The V-Town Social Club. Please follow my Facebook page The V-Town Social Club and don’t forget to stop in my website http://www.the-v-town-social-club.com
Until next time,
Eat Well and Smile Often