January 16, 2010 | Italian

Back to the Bronx

I return to the Bronx for a little more Little Italy.

I woke up, did some verb drills, then went to the Bronx to take more photos of Little Italy. I stopped by Mike’s Deli, which is where I handed out cheese and salami in November, and ended up talking to one of the customers. He started telling me about all the actors he had met from The Sopranos. I’m not positive, but I think this might have been an attempt to impress me. It did not work.

Arthur Avenue, the Bronx, in January

Arthur Avenue Retail Market

Not Sure What They Sell Here...

...or Here

Arthur Avenue, the main strip, is beautiful and charming and worth multiple field trips. I walked in and out of stores taking pictures. In my life, the main times I recall hearing the term “meat market” were in college, in reference, say, to a particular type of bar or club, but in Little Italy the term is to be taken literally and gastronomically. Also: I love that there is a shop with the words “pork store” in its name.

Before I left the neighborhood, I had a coffee at the Palombo Bakery Creamery Caffe. The place was bustling, extremely popular, a popularity that was reflected in the prices: my double espresso was $3.50, a dollar more than I spend on the same beverage at Café Margot on 74th and Broadway.

Palombo Bakery Creamery Caffe

While I drank my coffee, I studied Italian. Verbs. The scene was just right, and very wonderful. Language, grammar, coffee, New York. Perfect.

A group of older men next to me were speaking animatedly in a language I couldn’t identify. I asked them what it was.

Albanian, they said.

“Where are you from?” one asked.

“I live here, but I’m from California originally.”

“Oh, that explains why you’re friendly.”

I laughed. I said I had tried to learn to be unfriendly, but had failed.

Another guy observed soberly, “You have to be who you are.”

I agreed. They cheerfully waved goodbye when I left.

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