Taste tyranny proves San Francisco stereotypes
STEREOTYPES ARE slippery things. Take your average San Francisco yoga class, for example. And take it you might well do, considering that it is regularly offered at what is called the community rate of $12 for an hour of very good teaching.
Otherwise the yoga class is pretty much as any Dublin yoga fan might have predicted, except that the pupils are very young and the teacher is a middle-aged man. He pats you on the back when you begin to tire. He is remarkably encouraging.
“I love that you’re resting,” he says.
But actually you are two slow inhalations from a coma. Never mind.
In the lobby, mad with endorphins, you float past the sign which warns about all the armed robberies that have taken place in this area at night. Right after the yoga classes that take place in this very building. So much for the warrior poses one, two and three.
But perhaps it is around food that the San Francisco stereotypes are sharpest.
In last Saturday’s San Francisco Chronicle there were instructions on exactly how to dry your herbs – no, not that herb – as well as a two-page feature on the closure of a sustainable egg farm.
In Mill Valley, over the Golden Gate Bridge, when you’re in the local branch of Wholefoods on a weekday afternoon, you can see that an awful lot of the women here do yoga.
Wholefoods is not some pine-shelved cabin crammed into one of the cheaper parts of Dún Laoghaire, but a huge supermarket where the meat is additive-free and there is what might justifiably be called a library of yoghurt.
Never in your life have you seen so many beautiful women over 40. Their lightly muscled arms are reaching over the pumpkins. There are sleeveless tops everywhere. Michelle Obama has a lot to answer for.
These women are thin, dressed in sports gear. There are a couple of face lifts but there is no discernible make-up; I mean, really, none. There are no high heels either – heels of any kind seem to be regarded as rather trashy in white and Asian San Francisco – and it looks like there is big money behind every shopping trolley. These are the wives of the very rich, who do not work but are proud to be seen in their workout gear. The man on the smoothie machine is from Haiti.
Lifestyle is a minefield. A lucrative minefield. La Boulange is a chain of artisan bakeries which is very popular with San Franciscans. It sells robust and tastefully tan French bread, and delicate cakes, and its shops are very pretty, a slice of retro good taste redolent of a France that probably never existed. La Boulange is sort of like the Amélie of bread.