Once were bodegas

I rarely leave the island except to go to the airport, so heading to Brooklyn for a little story was like packing for Liberia must have been for the Chimp’s handlers. I armed myself with a friend as an escort and tracked my route on Hopstop and even tried to do research on a destination for lunch, only to find we were bound for where the internets don’t go. So after wrapping up my bit of work, we started out for the subway by a slightly different route and had a series of experiences that really brought home how soulless the island has become, even in my neighborhood, where fresh chorizo and crema were once available just blocks away from my kitchen. We stopped first at a butcher shop where three types of Puerto Rican sausage made in-house were laid out tantalizingly on the counter along with fresh sofrito and containers of seasoning blends and a variety of other sausages the store simply carried. The meat in the length-of-the-store case looked gorgeous, and a little stand in the front was selling cooked food. The butchers also could not have been more charming (when were we two last called “girls”?) And then we stumbled upon a tiny narrow shop selling Mexican ingredients, some of which I have never seen fresh, where I bought two champagne-style mangos and a pack of 32 tortillas, all for exactly $3, from the nicest young kid at the counter. We had lunch next door at a place where I was too stupid to take a menu and which does not seem to exist on the Google. And that’s too bad because the waitresses in their crisp white shirts could not have been more gracious and patient, and even with over-ordering we paid $19.50 for guacamole, two huaraches, two rajas-con-queso tamales, a huge chorizo cemita, a fruit drink and a seltzer. We were surrounded by families pushing strollers the size of SUVs and by young people tucking into things that looked even better than what was on our table. And then we made our way back to the train for the short ride to the borough where every block is now a bank, a nail-sploitation salon and a Duane Reade.