I know that it’s important to post frequently when you have a blog, but I just can’t make myself sit down and write about something when I’ve got nothing. My dear husband and I have been participating in another 8 week I Quit Sugar program so our meals are very prescribed and frankly, not worth writing about. I’ve also travelled to the US to visit my family, enjoying their company (cooking sugar free for them too) and marvelling at the orderly stocked shelves filled with a riot of fresh fruit and vegetables, beautifully displayed, prepared for cooking. Plastic tubs full of baby kale, barrels of quinoa, bags of shredded cabbage, berries galore, a bakery overflowing with freshly baked goods, the stink of cheese as I walk past the cheese counter, an entire fridge full of different kombuchas. Sigh.
While I wonder how to convince Whole Foods to open an outpost in Amman, I am debating whether to bring an entire suitcase full of food back to Jordan with me or just let it go and learn to be happy with the ingredients available to me in my new home. I’ve decided that except for a couple of ingredients, I must just make do. It will encourage me to be a more resourceful and creative chef, but there’s no denying that I will most definitely indulge in the variety (some would say glut) while I’m here.
Yesterday I had my first noteworthy foodie experience in a while. I was up in the Bronx for the day, not far from where my parents used to live, near the Bronx Zoo. This is an area rarely if ever explored by tourists (even natives) of the city, but as Manhattan and even Brooklyn and Queens become more and more prohibitively expensive to live in, the Bronx seems the one last bastion of “real” New Yorkers. It was my sister Ellen who reminded me about Arthur Avenue. It’s the Little Italy of the Bronx and a much more authentic experience than the one next to SOHO in downtown Manhattan which has become almost a caricature of itself.
Arthur Avenue is filled with little food shops, cafes, restaurants, and oddly, Dominican cigar rolling/smoking stores. There’s little that is fancy here, just plain speaking, albeit with a heavy accent that sounds like something from the Sopranos, shop keepers selling their goods in the tradition of their families, to the neighborhood. There’s a charming indoor marketplace – butchers selling rabbit, duck, guinea fowl, tripe (things you hardly ever see over here), barrels full of olives, salt cured capers (sound familiar?), colorful cans of Italian tomatoes. I couldn’t resist getting my some proper Italian style sandwiches to eat on our ride back down to DC. No, they weren’t on the I Quit Sugar diet, but it was so worth the cheat! Here a little photo tour of my stroll around the Avenue. Should you find yourself in New York, it’s worth the trip uptown on the subway to visit this little slice of the city as it used to be.