I just got back from visiting a friend in the hospital. (In summary: Not good, but he's gonna live.) Looking on the bright side, the good thing about what ails him is that he can still eat. Being that pretty much everyone this guy knows is in the food business, he is going to be the best-fed guy at Kaiser. Last night two friends came in bearing two large bags full of tuna melts, bean salads, fried pickles, and root beer from Short Order. I brought Littlejohn's toffee, which I know is a favorite of his. Today when I got there, there was a sweet little box of cookies from Susina Bakery, scones from Short Cake Bakery, and last I heard, Armenian food from Carousel was on the way for lunch, and a double order of tagliata with oxtail ragú from Osteria Mozza for dinner.

Anyway, today we sat around the way you do when someone you love is in the hospital, trying to crack jokes, not sure which is worse: talking about the reason you're there or not talking about the reason you're there, basically just trying to pass the time in a pleasant enough manner so that you can be together and the person knows they are cared for. "Do you mind being here or do you feel bad enough that this feels like where you want to be right now?" I asked. "This feels like where I want to be," he said.

When the nurse left the room, after persuading her to try the toffee, he looked at me and said, as if we were about to plan a coup: "Okay. Top five things in the Farmers Market." This is the kind of thing we talk about when nobody has recently stared death in the face so it felt kinda refreshing. "Little John's," for sure, I said. "And the shredded beef taco at Loteria." "Ida's Old School," he said about what I'd agree is the best burger at Short Order. We argued for awhile as to whether we could group things and finally came up with this:

1. Littlejohn's toffee

2. Ida's Old School Burger at Short Order

3. Roasted & Salted Cashews from Magee's Nuts

4. Croissant and Coffee at Short Cake Bakery and Single Origin

5. Carne Deshebrada Taco at Lotería

I happen to have a thing for the apple fritters at Bob's Donuts, and the applewood bacon at Huntington Meats. (Not to mention the marrow bones, which Rufus is a big fan of.) We thought about increasing the list to eight so we could fit in all of the things we loved in the Farmers Market but decided against it. Five's a good number. Besides, if the list isn't tough to edit, then it isn't special.

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