In Which There is Nostalgia Food

After starting my week with a fun little letter from my favourite Canadian institution, I must concede that I did not have a super active, enthusiastic, or fun loving few days. I went to my chiropractor but only long enough to get myself bent back into shape before I schlepped on home to face the paperwork. The following day, I managed to break out of my slump purely by accident. I was in the city for a training session for work and as I was leaving I thought: Oh, I should just walk on down to Broadway-Lafayette so I get a bit of fresh air and spend slightly less time in the sardine tin that is a rush hour train outer-borough-bound. I was cruising innocently down Broadway when, there it was, looming before me was that mansion of temptation, The Strand.

I don’t even have to go inside. In fact, I can’t even walk past the place without finding myself inexorably drawn into the carts upon carts of $1 books. They’re so cheap I don’t even begrudge myself the cost, but the hours I’ve lost and the bookshelves I’ve filled? The books are stacked in with no order what so ever and it’s just catnip to me. I mean, who know’s what gems I might find with a small bit of water damage and a $1 sticker? Suffice to say that Union Square is a veritable black hole for me and I never seem to make it in or out without an armload of books—treasures scavenged and scrounged from the unlikeliest of company.

I got away with less than $7 in books. I consider that a win. I have no idea where I’ll put them.

Having sated my inner bibliophile once more, I then set out to dance the night away at Westie cafe.

The following day, I delivered myself to my chiropractor, fetched some fresh fish and vegetable from the market and returned to my fiscal hell. I’m not sure whether I can say I got it sorted or just that I got tired but at some point, one of my exciting new novels captured my focus and I read about Sarajevo until entirely too late. Who needs sleep when there’s fiction to be had?

Friday, my bad behaviour caught up with me, and I was altogether exhausted (once again, are you catching the theme here?). But I had it in my head that I was going to go learn about AI, so I went off to learn about AI. Sadly, though the people involved seemed very intelligent, the audience was sparse to say the least, and the moderator was really not well prepared to moderate. To tell the truth, I think perhaps the main guest speaker planned the event and had just brought the others along to create the illusion of a conversation when really he just wanted to share. I rather wish he’d just caved to his own inclinations because he seemed very knowledgable and was only held back by attempts to encourage the other two to participate. I guess you can’t win them all.

As I left the talk, I dropped by Trader Joe’s and, though unable to find a single ripe avocado, managed to find some guacamole, corn tortillas, and a queue that didn’t actually wrap all the way round the store. So I flounced through the till, and jumped back on a train back to my flat where tortillas and guac turned into pineapple and tuna ceviche tacos with guac and goat cheese. I wouldn’t say I ate four, but I ate four.

Once fed, I headed out to salsa to see Karel Flores’s new choreo and, unbeknwonst to me, to scare all the westies. You see there was a small westie event in the back room and one or two of them drifted out into salsaland for a drink only to find a whole different dancer out on the floor. It’s always amusing to see the effect of the differing aesthetics in my life on people who only know me from one of them.

At some point I made my way home and might have read for a bit before I finally turned in, which should have resulted in a lie in, but my brain doesn’t love me so I was up by 9 and bouncing off to do laundry. Having not done laundry for two whole weeks during which I went to a dance event, I may have had a bit of an impressive pile. Who needs gym when you can spend your Saturday hauling kilos and kilos of laundry up and down five flights of stairs.

While the laundry spun, I tidied the apartment, faced down another leg of the tax saga, and lazed about the house. Once I’d conquered as much as I thought I was likely to do, I headed to the subway to meet Mandy and begin our quest to Queens. We’d had a chat about the famous Flushing food of authentic Chinese fame and had made a plan to take the trip out in search of my most beloved Shanghainese snack: 生煎包. The day before, by complete fluke, a friend from the far west of Canada had sent me a link for the Queens Night Market. Turns out it was the same evening we were already planning to be in the neighbourhood, so our search of 生煎包 turned into a foodie adventure.

We took the F to the 7 to the end of the line and soon found ourselves in the middle of a VERY China shopping centre. According to Google maps it was meant to be the home of the fabled 生煎包 shop, but after a full tour of the food court, it was no where to be found. So Mandy quizzed the workers and eventually we were rerouted a block away to another slightly less chaotic shopping centre which soon yielded up its deliciousness.

The 包 were a little less fresh than one might have hoped, so the juice had all soaked into the wrapper, but the flavours and the textures were on point! So on point that all I could think about was how perfect it would be if the soup had still been sloshing about inside. It would probably be fair to call me obsessed.

After the first step in our quest, we hopped back on the 7 and rode two stops back to Corona. Where Flushing is all China all the time, Corona is muy latino! The sidewalks were filled with elote, aguas frescas, and limonata. But once we stepped into the night market, it was a whole world of food. Overwhelmed by our choices, we leaned east and settled on jasmine tea and 串儿. It’s a fair bit pricier than it ever was in China but there was lamb and squid and it was all roasty and barbecued and delicious. We ate and we sat; we listened to music and played with puppy dogs and then we found our train and headed back home to the Lower East Side.

Sunday morning started with modified migas made with the remains of my Friday taco time, followed by all the laziness. After a few hours of reading I wandered down to the market to pick up some snacks. Ostensibly I was there to get supplies for a friend’s barbecue but I might have maybe accidentally fallen into the cheese shop and gotten a bit caught up in sheep gouda and figs. They made a lovely meal while I turned coco lime into a whole new hipster adventure. I was finding the coco lime a little too rich for such a hot day so I chucked in a couple kirby cucumbers and grabbed a bottle of club soda and set out to the garden party.

We drank and chatted, ate pie and even danced a bit, and right around the time it was getting too dark to see, those of us that remained, set out in search of chicken. When the originator of rotisserie chickonomics tells you it’s gonna be good chicken, you don’t argue, you just follow. 10 blocks later we were all in possession of a little piece of poultry heaven. The chicken was spectacular and the sauces were even better.

Eventually I found myself on the six train with a tummy full of tasty, and a head in need of pillow. It was not, however to be that easy. I got inside, attempted to quickly check my emails, and soon found myself in a particular sort of technological hell—the discovery of a mac trojan. This particular virus’s modus operandi was uncontrolled scrolling in every direction which makes it very challenging to find, download, install, and run anti-virus software to fix the problem. Sometime around 1am I was virus free and ready to collapse.

Today I was suffering from sleep deprivation and a healthy bit of work stress so by the time I got home I was in sore need of a nap. I fried up a piece of grouper, drizzled it with maple syrup and crashed into bed. About an hour later, I headed into midtown to get my ass handed to me at an audition. I always feel like, given how long I’ve been dancing, I really ought to be a bit better, but I seem to be missing a certain something. I’m not sure what it is, but I think I should probably figure it out before I put myself on display again.

And in all that sleepiness and emotion, I forgot to mention the 70% eclipse and the lovely locals sharing their eye protection around. It was pretty rad but now it’s time for bed.

Crashing hard-core,
The Salsa Girl


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