I recently caught up with Mary Healy, director and CEO of the Sacramento Zoo, over lunch at Tower Cafe. She told me that our zoo&emdash;along with 219 others in the United States, Mexico and Hong Kong&emdash;has its own version of Match.com (or eHarmony, if you prefer). Its official title is Species Survival Plan but Healy says, In reality, it’s an online stud book. Before anyone gets too excited about that phrase&emdash;I thought it meant I could go there to order replacement buttons for my tuxedo shirt, which at my age qualifies as exciting&emdash;I should clarify. Healy says that member zoos consult the service to matchmake mainly mammals and birds, for procreation purposes (and, sure, in some cases, procreating porpoises). For a long time, she says, zoos would obtain a prize animal, like a snow leopard, and just sell it to another zoo for several thousand dollars, without giving any real thought to the survival of the species. We don’t do that anymore. We don’t sell to the highest bidder. We sell to [a zoo] that will help guarantee we have healthy populations of snow leopards for generations to come. If you’re an animal lover&emdash;which is not the same as your lover calling you Animal&emdash;you might want to check out the website of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums: aza.org. And if you happen to find a small black button that looks like it would go with a 17-neck/34-sleeve tuxedo shirt, please call. No questions asked.
Floral Exam&emdash;It’s official: You can now actually shop at Stems, the 1,400-square-foot floral design shop on Folsom Boulevard and 33rd Street in East Sacramento. For the past several years, Stems had a by-appointment-only policy due, no doubt, to the impossible schedules of mother/daughter owners Mary and Rebecca Stember. Mary, who’s taught art at St. Francis High School for the past decade, is the ninth of 10 children, while her daughter is one of six children&emdash;and has four children of her own, all younger than 7. That’s a lot of birthdays and floral arrangements to keep track of. Mary admits that the shop’s previous closed-door policy frustrated some of our customers. I know the feeling. I have a plumber who doesn’t make house calls.
Justin Time&emdash;Justin Fowler is an excellent waiter at an undisclosed location in a very large local mall. At his request, I’m not revealing the actual restaurant because he’s concerned that what he has to say about the difference in customers’ behavior before and after they attend worship services could affect his employer&emdash;and, more to the point, his employment. When people come here to eat before they head off to church, they’re just great, he says. But a lot of people, when they come here after services, on Sunday afternoon, they sometimes treat us horribly. It’s as though they feel they’ve been forgiven for their bad behavior during the previous week and can start acting badly all over again. Ask anyone in this business. Fowler thinks it’s especially bad if patrons have attended megachurches, where someone’s preaching over a microphone to 10,000 people. Maybe the message gets lost in the masses. At 34, Fowler says he’s been in the eatery business all my life. His late father, Archie Fowler, owned Archie’s Deli in the town of Willows for many years. Reflecting on a career path that’s taken him to Chico, Merced and Elk Grove, and to the states of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Fowler merrily says, I actually started out in restaurant management at my dad’s place. I’ve been working my way down ever since.
Laugh with your mouth full: Ed Goldman’s Fear of Frying: Understandable Recipes for the Cookbook-Challenged is online at sacmag.com/FearofFrying. Two new recipes are offered every week.