Matzoh balls as big as your head! / My time with Tara (the personal narrative post)
Tara and I had the most delightful time figuring out the protocol of this amazing delicatessen last week. Handed a blue ticket upon our entry into the culinary time machine of Katz’s, a Lower East Side staple for nearly 120 years, we realized that as 'first timers' we would need the help of a waitress to guide us... and guide us she did!
I used to live in the East Village and had been to Katz's years ago, but never eaten there because at the time i was a vegan/vegetarian and figured it was not a place for me to dine. Nowadays, I do eat the occasional turkey and swiss on rye, so I thought I’d give it a shot. A cherry Dr. Browns soda started off my feast, and we decided on the ½ sandwich-cup of soup combo, along with an order of latkes with applesauce & sour cream (yum!). The pickles were divine and matzoh ball soup was delish, with the biggest matzoh ball I've ever seen!
Filled to the brim, we settled our tab, grabbed a couple of coffees for the road, and presented our blue tickets in order to grant our exit. (We're a little baffled by this practice of the blue tickets in order to mediate patrons comings and goings. Does anyone know how and why this is, and if it's always been this way??)
Needing to walk off our lunch, we made our way to the LES Tenement Museum. As we walked the streets, I could not help but notice how much the Lower East Side had changed since I lived there years ago- the posh stores and boutiques, the shi-shi cafes and bars- it did not feel as friendly. It felt confusing-- as if I needed to know my purpose before heading down there: Am I here to buy a $700 handbag or am I hear to get a get a $2 knish? There used to be great thrift stores and dive bars, but now it just seemed like Soho had bled across Lafayette, creating an elitist air.
After our visit to the LES museum (which I will engage in a later post) Tara and I set out to locate the Eldridge Street Synagogue. We knew it was closed to the public but wanted to at least see the architechture of this historical landmark. Almost stumbling on it as we perused the blocks of Chinatown, we took a moment to observe its odd situation within this environment, the sun shining on it in such a way that made it look like a facade, surreal.
On our way back towards the train, we stopped in a Chinese Buddhist Temple that Tara had noticed as we headed south. I, not knowing how exactly to behave in such a setting, just stepped back and let Tara have a moment while I tried to maintain a respectful manner in the corner, petting the resident temple cat. Watching my friend inhabit this space and bow at the altar in private prayer is something I shall never forget. An unexpected stop on our trajectory, this lower east side moment was the most precious to me. And it made me realize that the company the tourist keeps is sometimes just as important as the tour.