Brigadoon in a natural casing

Another friend braved the crappy 9/11 weather for a couple of days in the city that never freaks and showed up at our place with a camera full of food from San Gennaro. Which weirdly brought back too many memories of my very first foray to NYC, when my next-older sister and I took the train up from DC and hooked up with the daughter of one of my mom’s brothers. I may be redoing an “I remember . . .” but four recollections linger from that night: Her teeny apartment in Queens, where her wedding dress still hanging on a closet door was the only decoration. The scary cab ride to Little Italy and her handing the driver $5 for a $4 fare and snarling when he pocketed it, “Gimme fiddy cents back.” The scary-smelly food on Mulberry Street and crowds so tight I would have worried about being trampled if I had known what a scrum was way back when. And the disgusting brown french fries I made my sister go out to find me for my anorectic dinner from our room in the Statler Hilton. Someday I should dig up the photo button we had made of the three of us at the festival that one time we were together, if only to marvel that this dissipate is the one still standing (cousin died of AIDS, sister of breast cancer). When Don posted his gallery on Facebook, though, I saw something so much more happy-making. As accustomed as I am to the disconnect between street food and real food in this town, I was still amazed at the insanity of what is served on the streets where Neapolitan/Sicilian travesties reign. Deep-fried Oreos? Colombian cat on a stretcher? Cannoli any way but in a shell? I guess if New Yorkers can’t make it to the state fair, the state fair had to come to us. But surely we can do better. Are we going to let Orange County get away with deep-fried avocado and deep-fried White Castle burgers and deep-fried Spam? Can’t anyone around here deep-fry a slice? Or a rat?