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The Glories of Berkeley Bowl — And Smoky Snake Beans

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.


You know how some women can spend hours at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s?

I could totally lose track of time inside Berkeley Bowl.

With two locations now in Berkeley, this incredible grocery store has one of the most far-ranging produce departments imaginable. It’s the only place I found a few years ago that carried ramps, that East Coast darling of ingredients beloved by chefs.

This family-owned store was established in 1977 by Glenn and Diane Yasuda. He hailed from a family of Southern California farmers; she came from a long line of grocers. At a time when supermarkets mostly bought from large distributors, the Yasudas championed small farmers from the start, sourcing from them directly to fill their store’s produce bins. The more unusual or exotic, the better, too.

In fact, in 1987, David “Mas” Masumoto was on the verge of giving up his Suncrest peach farm because there was no market for the intensely flavored fruit because they bruised easily, and thus, could not be shipped easily nor stored for long periods. But Glenn Yasuda saw their value, and started buying them, helping to save the Masumoto farm.


You’ll learn all of that history in the new “The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook” (Parallax Press) by Laura McLively, a registered dietitian and food writer in Oakland, with photos by Berkeley’s Erin Scott.

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