Food Friday and a thought about Robert Moses
This is probably going to be the last Shabbat our family will be all together for a while. Our youngest will probably be going back to college during the week. Our daughter and her boyfriend are joining us tonight for Shabbat.
I started tonight’s cooking with my new favorite summer food, pickled vegetables. For tonight it is a mix of carrots, cabbage, turnip and cauliflower. The final result is halfway between the bowl of pickled vegetables you get at an old fashioned Jewish deli and one of the salatim you get at an Israeli schwarma restaurant. One of the things I love about pickling vegetables is how vegetables that are kind of terrible, like turnips, or not that interesting like cabbage or cauliflower become completely transformed by hanging out all day in a mix of vinegar, sugar salt and spices. It’s the vegetable version of an extreme makeover of the homely into the fabulous.
This was a challah baking week. My foodie friend’s Czernowitz challah was incredibly good. It tasted like an excellent challah from somewhere deep in my past. I wish I could identify exactly where I had had this excellent challah before...eventually it will come to me.
I also made one package of ribs.
I realized that this meal was more or less Mediterranean. The meatballs are spiced with African spices. Here they are cold. They will look far more delicious warmed up.
I made a spicy stewed eggplant with tahini. My youngest is allergic to sesame. The chances of his eating this eggplant is zero either with or without the tahini, so I felt safe adding it to the eggplant.
For dessert I thought I would make a straightforward apricot sorbet. Like much of what I do, the straight forward took something of a left turn in the making and by the end I had something that tasted of the shouk. The sorbet is spiced with ginger, cardamom, rosewater and vanilla.
My boys both worked at the same day camp this summer. Today was the last day. Often in the evening they would discuss challenging situations they had had with their kids: how to get shy kids to become part of a group, how they settled disputes between kids, how they helped kids with learning issues navigate their day. Again and again I was struck by their wisdom. I was gratified to see how they managed to learn the best of what I tried to teach them as their mother, rather than learning from my grumpy worst.
I assume that tonight will be a dinner filled with lots of laughter, because that’s what usually happens when we all sit down together for a meal.
And now for a new topic.
Robert Moses is famous for destroying neighborhoods in the Bronx by running the Major Deegan Expressway through the middle of thriving neighborhoods. He is known for building the bridges on the roads to Jones beach too low to allow busses ( and poor people) to get to the beach. We all know that he did lots of really awful things.
One fact that is less known is that when he built public housing in New York City he allotted three times the federal allotment to each housing unit. In fact New York City public housing from the Robert Moses years is built much better than most public housing in the United States.
The other legacy of the Robert Moses years is that aside from the parks, like Central Park and Riverside Park, some of the best stands of trees in Manhattan are in the housing projects.
When my youngest was in elementary school we walked some of his friends who lived in the projects a few blocks north of us home. My son was impressed by the beauty of the setting. He commented about how beautiful it was.My son mused that he wished that he lived in such a pretty place.
My son wasn’t wrong. The projects are lovely in the summer but are particularly beautiful in the spring and in the fall.