New York: Never Put Pastrami In Your Handbag
A month ago today I was back in my beloved New York City for the first time in two years. And there were many things I wanted to eat.
One of the things that happens to you after years of living in the city is that it becomes part of you. NYC knits itself into your cells in a way that is hard to describe and although I can no longer call it home, it was uplifting, inspiring, emotional and delicious to be back.
Because of family stuff too tedious to describe, I was only there for 3 nights and 4 days. Thank you to my cousin for letting me stay at her beautiful UWS apartment. And when I arrived, I had already set myself up to have dinner at my favorite restaurant with my best girls, S and A.
If you know me, my standards for Italian food are impossibly high, which either amuses or annoys you. But al di la' in Park Slope is my favorite Italian place in the US and all other non-Italian countries. It's northern Italian food and gutsy at that. They don't joke around and are always crowded. No reservations. Food flawlessly authentically executed and always perfect.
The only thing that could have overshadowed the food was the company and it did. How I miss my two dear friends! Beautiful, stylish, empathic and intelligent. I would have cursed every moment that passed since I had a woefully limited amount of time to spend with them, but I was too busy having a wonderful time. After two years, the sweet comfort of friendship felt so good.
I had forgotten many things--how long the 2/3 takes to get to Brooklyn and the light when the sun is going down in Park Slope and people are walking their dogs. I used to be you, I wanted to shout. I am actually one of you--just displaced! It was as if the whole thing was set up to make me long to be back--the trees were in bloom (for the 2.3 days that they do that all year); it was a balmy spring day, perfect for a light leather jacket; all was well in the beautiful borough.
Walking was an issue--I had forgotten how in Bangkok, spoiled by motorcycles and taxis that cost a dollar. (I spent a shameful amount in cabs this time around). I was rewarded with enormous blisters that hobbled me for the rest of the time. Then came a torrent of realizations: couldn't walk, couldn't find anything, couldn't dress stylishly.
The next day in search of a slice around Union Square--where have all the pizzerias gone? I wondered. But I remembered Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop (over 75 years old) and sidled up to a red vinyl stool at the counter to gorge myself on the Jewish food that doesn't exist out here. I had matzo ball soup and managed to mow through half a pastrami sandwich before crying uncle. I couldn't let the pastrami be thrown out though and asked for it to go. The cashier was impressed looking at my size with how much I managed to eat (Wow, I am considered small in America!).
Unfortunately for me though the pastrami leaked its delicious meat grease over a lot of things in my bag. Advice: Don't put pastrami in your handbag--it gets all over the screen of your cell phone.