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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Nate Martins

SD Food News' young star is the Sausage Prince of San Jose

By Troy Johnson

SD Food News is, yes, what happened when I decided to make an honest column out of my Twitter account. Breaking news, thoughts, musings, half-cocked pseudo-philosophy on San Diego’s food scene. My daily life. But there is absolutely no way I could do this without quality help. Sometimes you get an assistant and they’re somewhat kind of helpful when they’re not confused and drunk. And then sometimes you get one who’s named Nate Martins, an English grad who’s stopped lazing about quoting Baudelaire and actually gets work done. He’s also funny. This is starting to sound like I want to date him, so I’ll stop here and get into an even creepier Q&A with him.

Nate. You have such a pretty smile. Anyone ever tell you that?

I won best smile in high school my senior year. There were 75 kids in my graduating class that, let me tell you, didn’t look anything like a Freddie Prinze Jr movie.

Is it true your dad is the Sausage King of San Jose? Which would make him one of my personal demigods?

Yes, except now, Silva Sausage Co. is based out of Gilroy (30 minutes south of San Jose). I’m the oldest in the family so that makes me the prince, I guess. Try and make a sausage joke I haven’t heard before.

Tell us a story about your grandma. Everyone loves stories about grandmas.

Most grandmothers send packages of cookies to their grandchildren away at school. Not mine. I got coolers of mortadella, salami, Sao Jorge cheese and Portuguese soda (Sumol).

So food is in the family blood?

When I was about 10, I worked the San Jose Speedway selling sausages with my dad. Silva Sausage had a booth at the sprint car races and I worked the front (why was a 10 year-old handling cash?) dishing out linguica sandwiches. My dad used to sell caramel apples in the bleachers when my grandfather had the booth. Now, Silva has a stand at San Jose State football games. My little brother and cousin are out front corralling the masses to stuff their faces with our sausage.

Ever raise a goat in your front yard? Or spent time in a Turkish prison?

My grandma has a few acres of land surrounding her San Jose home. She had an arrangement with a family friend where he was allowed to keep his goats on the land if we got to eat one that Easter. Before you knew it, one of the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” was on the table drizzled in chimichurri.

First food memory?

The smell of linguica. Every day when my dad came home from work, his clothes were permeated with it. I’ll never forget that smoky paprika aroma. It’s comforting, oddly enough. It means home.

Go to food. If you say sandwiches, you’re fired.


Best meal you’ve ever had?

Pork belly and kimchee sliders at a bar called Alembic in Haight-Ashbury, SF.

What you’ve learned so far at SD Food News…

Ask questions endlessly. Dig deeper. Jump headfirst into every story. Get the damn spelling right. Exactly how Troy Johnson likes his coffee.

Please follow Nate on Twitter and buy some of his dad’s sausage.

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