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Judith made this whole gig happen, I mean Tin Fork and the cheap-eats world she gave me. Actually, it wouldn't have happened without Carla either. She met Judith first and must have mentioned this layabout guy she lived with, because next thing I know here's this lady, looking like Annette Bening but a little plumper, rocking away in our apartment's rocking chair with her knees up under a blue-gray flowered granny dress.

She asked me what kind of places I ate at when I was out. I told her whatever's cheap enough. I liked burgers, burritos, curries, Cambodian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, French if the price is right. I tried to explain I was your original San Diego-on-five-bucks-a-day guy.

She seemed satisfied. It turned out she had an idea. "How would you like to write about them?" she asked. That threw me. "Haute cuisine à la hamburger?" Judith didn't laugh. She wasn't one to waste time with throwaway chat.

"Can you do it?" was all she said.

It took a moment. Me? Write about food?

"It's not just food you're writing about," she said. "It's the people, the bargains, the atmosphere, whatever happens. We're an alternative paper. These are places the mainstream press leaves out. But it's where most San Diegans go. Mom-and-pop cafés, college cafeterias, taco joints, sushi bars, Father Joe's..."

"No problem," I said. "They're my hangouts anyway. But the writing?"

"Just remember this," said Judith. "What interests you probably interests others."

Huh. Amazing how that one little thought helped my confidence. Judith rocked on, back and forth, and then got up. Such a little woman. Such clear eyes. It seemed we had a deal. "But keep it honest," she said. "Never accept a free meal, and don't pretend you know more than you do. Our readers will see through it, and so will I."

And that's how Tin Fork was born.

Thanks, Judith.

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