I arrived in Queens late afternoon after flying in from Paris via Philadelphia. It felt good to be on the ground.
Queens – which comprises many neighborhoods – is a place I’m getting to know, since my son lives there. It’s rife with markets that are open until midnight; people on the streets, families in the parks way after dark, and food trucks parked near trees, so patrons have shade on a hot day.
When I see my son, Joe, who is very thin and usually has graphite smudges on his face from the drawing pencil he’s attached to all day long (he’s training to be a portrait artist) that accentuate his lean and hungry look, my first thought is “Get this young man some food.”
Our first stop after dropping my bags was a neighborhood Thai restaurant, which was unremarkable or I’d post the address. Our dinner was leisurely and lovely, though, the beer was spot-on cold, and the little satés were tasty.
Then we hit the markets and the grocery store. Joe, like any student on a budget, will live on potatoes, rice, and lentils, often forgetting that fresh vegetable exists. He’s got another handicap. “Mom, food doesn’t have that much flavor here,” he says as we look at the shiny apples, the carrots, the heads of lettuce, the mounds of pears. That’s the price he pays for growing up in France.
Despite these difficulties, we managed to find apples from upstate New York, decent carrots with the greens still attached, a bunch of beets, and various other things that will keep Joe in healthy food for at least a week or two. This is what a mother wants. To know her child eats well.
And procuring the ingredients was fun. Close to midnight, the streets were full, the markets busy, the produce under the night sky had a cheery, fresh aspect it might not have had in daylight. Illusion, perhaps, but one that was thoroughly enjoyable!