Have you noticed how many topics are taboo, these days? Race, religion, politics -- the list goes on. But mention food, and tongues start wagging. It's a guaranteed conversation starter.

That's why Restaurant Week is so important in Oakland. For the next 10 days you can try primo prix fixe meals at more than 50 top eateries -- so you can be in the know about Oakland's hot restaurant scene.

Imagine what you'll bring to the conversation when you've tried chef Preeti Mistry's Guju Chili at Juhu Beach Club in Temescal. If you think that's a mouthful, try the three-course Wiener schnitzel dinner with a glass of beer or wine at Brotzeit Local near Jack London Square. Then, make a date at A16 in Rockridge and order the $30 prix fixe including the fried olives stuffed with braised pork.

Don't forget Glenview favorites like Bellanico, Marzano and Rumbo Al Sur, along with Montclair's popular Italian Colors. There's no way you can visit them all, but choosing a restaurant a day from Friday through Jan. 26 will make you an expert on Oakland's food scene. And never mind the calories -- this is for research purposes only. Check it out at http://visitoakland.org/restaurantweek.

Email bag: Mail is still pouring in about that bouncy little ditty reader Jim Fleming discovered in some old recordings a few weeks back. Now that we know it's a novelty song about Oakland recorded 51 years ago by The Goodtime Washboard (see http://www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/2013/05/01/the-goodtime-washboard-three-and-the-oakland-song-live-on-in-el-cerrito), Fleming has another musical mystery. He's looking for a spoof song from the same era called "Girl from Petaluma" -- to the tune of "Girl from Ipanema." Finding that tune, he says, would make his year.

Meanwhile, Mark on Melville says the Goodtime Washboard Three (still living in El Cerrito) should be invited to play live at an Oakland A's game. He says he even sent a copy of my column with a note to the A's promotion manager.

Rhyme time: And while we're tripping through time, a video of a 2003 Poetry Jam in Montclair has been digitized and posted on YouTube. Manuel Garcia Jr. says it took years to recover the long lost VHS recording of the event he created 11 years ago. And while it doesn't go back that far in time, Garcia says folks might be interested in the "poetry, or marketing, or Montclair doings, or Oakland youth (some of our raging poets), or homegrown live entertainment, or just because." Check it out at http://youtu.be/FLmyglgFvBE Montclair Poetry Jam 2003.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior at 510-723-2525, or at ginnyprior@hotmail.com

or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.