Ron, the butcher from Little City in North Beach, ties a free bundle of Herbes de Provence on a package of lamb steaks, scribbles cooking directions on some homemade meatballs, shows me a newspaper article he saved for me and asks how my wife's mother is doing. Next door at Florence Ravioli, Steve - the owner - gives his recipe for pasta with marinated white anchovies. I remember my first week in San Francisco when he gave us three free packages of ravioli as a welcome present 10 minutes after we met him. Across the street, Farinelli Bros. gives us free prosciutto butts when we ask to buy some. "For cooking?'' he asks. "Here you go. I have some extra.''
A woman slips my daughter a cookie as I sip espresso at Victoria. When are you going to eat this cake, she asks, to make sure it's still cold when I get home. The guy at Golden Boy pizza makes sure my daughter's slice isn't too hot and shows her how to make a squirming worm out of a straw wrapper. As Noel Coward might say: Safeway can kiss my prosciutto butt.