Schlammer

August 22nd, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

A favorite weapon of garment center workers and hoodlum strikebreakers during the labor bottles in New York (1915-20) was the “schlammer.” This was a metal pipe wrapped in newspaper (HG presumes the bloody newspaper was divested. No fingerprints). The men (and some women) using these weapons were known as “schlammers.” HG’s late lamented father, Hershel Zvi Freeman, was such an effective breaker of criminal heads that he (wife and infant son Bernard) had to leave New York in a horse and wagon. Long journey took them to the Ohio farm of Fanny Howitz, HG’s Mom’s sister. The three spent a happy time there (HG’s mother and father especially loved community square dancing) before returning to New York when they thought things were safe. HG’s father was in his 50’s when HG was born. A quiet and gentle man, he was plagued by various ailments until his death in the 1960’s. Never spoke about his violent days. However, when HG was 14, HG ran an arcade game in Rockaway for a couple of tough Jews.( “Five balls. Five Roses. Roll ‘Em Easy. Roll ‘Em slow. Every Game A Winner.” chanted young HG as he collected money and made change.) A grifter cheated HG out of ten dollars which was deducted from HG’s measly pay by HG’s nasty bosses. HG told his father. Father went down to the basement of the boarding house where HG’s family summered. Picked up a lead pipe. Wrapped it in newspaper. HG and father went to the arcade. “Schlammer” in hand, HG’s father, in a soft and courteous voice, said the deduction was unfair and asked for ten dollars owed his son. The tough guys looked at the “schlammer”. Silence. They forked over the ten bucks.

Noo Yawk In PEI

August 11th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

With many hugs and kisses, the Freeman/Sakamoto clan (SJ, EM, Teru, Haru) left Prince Edward Island for Brooklyn with the final destination being Tokyo. Before setting off, there was a fabulous New York breakfast. Visiting HG daughter, Victoria, brought a smoked fish feast from New York’s venerable Russ & Daughters. Two types of smoked salmon. Sable. Red salmon caviar. BSK provided capers, lemons, bagels, brown bread, sour cream, cream cheese, sweet butter. Lesley R. made a big stack of crepes (she is world champ crepe master). Lots of coffee. Yes, it was the classic Sunday breakfast/brunch HG/BSK enjoyed during their years in New York. Russ & Daughters was the source during HG/BSK’s Greenwich Village year and Zabar’s was the source when HG/BSK lived on W. 67th and W.79th Streets. Rainy day so dinner was hearty. Lesley R. made a sumptuous stew of hake, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Served it over Calamari pasta ( a large round shape that holds the sauce with tenacity). This was preceded by cold mussels in a mustard sauce and BSK’s sautéed fresh scallops over greens. The meal was enhanced by the presence of Massimo R. who arrived in time for dinner after a long, non-stop drive from Providence. Happily, the distinguished Professor managed to avoid any collisions with moose.

Fifty Four and Want More

July 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On a torrid July 2, 1963, HG/BSK awakened in their romantic West Side artist’s studio apartment. Eeks!! Overslept. Due downtown at chambers of Judge George Postel to get married. Waiting to witness were BSK’s family and friends Julia and Peter Meyerson. Very disconcerted. However, brief ceremony went smoothly. Wedding breakfast at Longchamps on Broadway near City Hall (sad to see the wonderful restaurant chain disappear from New York). Later in the day, there was a festive reception in the elegant Library Room of the St. Regis Hotel. Music was provided by Bucky Pizzarelli and his guitar (now in his 90’s, he is still performing).Young BSK was chic and beautiful in a Jax suit. Dinner at Fleur de Lys, French bistro on the Upper West Side. HG, much to BSK’s later distress, overindulged in garlicky escargots. The result was HG, on the wedding night, smelling like a giant garlic clove. And, today, 54 years later, HG/BSK are enjoying the cool breezes at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home. Anniversary breakfast was softly scrambled eggs and John the Baker bread from the Cardigan Market. Yes, Hungry Gerald married the love of his life. But, Hungry Gerald is also Greedy Gerald. Wants many more years with Beautiful Sharon Kent.

Truck Cuisine

June 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is fond of food sold out of a truck — it can be out of the back of a truck, it can be in a proper “food truck” — doesn’t matter: HG likes them all. The ultimate was Italian sausage grilled to order, smothered in fried onions and peppers and topped with hot pepper flakes and served in halved loafs of Italian bread. The sausage truck was a fixture in the Greenwich Village of HG’s youth. This very inexpensive (and filling) dish sustained a generation of poets, painters, novelists and other impecunious creative types. Here on Prince Edward Island (HG/BSK’s summer home) there are some splendid food trucks in the town of Montague. In season, there’s a truck that sells spectacular sweet corn from Blum’s Farm. For most of the year, there’s a truck offering fresh fish and fish cakes. BSK fried some of their fish cakes for dinner last night. Spectacular. Purchased fish cakes are usually inferior. Lots of potato. Minimal amount of fish. Not these Montague goodies. Chunks of cod bound with velvety mashed potatoes. BSK served them with a perfect companion: Savory mustard pickles handcrafted by a mature woman and sold at the Cardigan Farmers Market. A super condiment. BSK rounded out the meal with a big platter of steamed asparagus doused with melted butter and lemon juice; chopped salad of Kumatoes and Vidalia onions; Italian truffle cheese with a last glass of Montepulciano. Watched the sun set over the sea and listened to cellist Pierre Fournier interpreting Bach and Vivaldi. Envious? You should be.

Northeast Feasts

June 10th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, life in New Mexico is gratifying. But, the Land of Enchantment is landlocked. The northeast coast of New England, the waters around New York City and, of course, HG/BSK’s summer paradise on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, provide some of the world’s best seafood. (Whole Foods in Santa Fe manages to fly in some pretty good fish and shellfish. However…) In Providence, HG/BSK and brilliant and beautiful granddaughter, Arianna R., celebrated BSK’s birthday with a sea feast at Hemenway’s, one of the best eateries in the city. A dozen briny oysters and a dozen little neck and cherrystone clams (Rhody clams are the very best). Rhody clam chowder (A clear pungent broth, not the usual creamy New England chowder which HG/BSK abhor). Rhody’s official state dish of fried calamari with hot peppers. Clams Casino. Broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon, Thick cut fried potatoes. Desserts were excellent bread pudding and pecan tart (enhanced by a chocolate sorbet). Very good draught ale and a fine bottle of chilled muscadet. Anchors aweigh, indeed. The next day, HG traveled via Amtrak to New York City for a festive reunion with restaurateur daughter Victoria F. (With chef/husband Marc Meyer, Vicki owns and runs four splendid New York restaurants–Cookshop in Chelsea, Vic’s in NoHo, Rosie’s in the East Village, Hundred Acres in SoHo). HG met Vicki for a brunch at Maison Premiere, a charming restaurant in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The restaurant specializes in oysters and on this Sunday night it was filled with hip, young people drinking the house absinthe and slurping away at oysters. Generous Vicki regaled her Dad with Raspberry Point oysters (from PEI ) and Long Island clams. As a surprise, Vicki ordered two oyster shooters: Oysters topped with Beluga caviar. Oh, my!! Drank very good Muscadet. After almost two hours of feasting, Vicki and HG were joined by SJ. More oysters (Chesapeakes), more clams, more wine and a savory brandade.Thanks, Vicki for your beauty, kindness and incomparable generosity. HG and SJ took off for Keens Steakhouse on Manhattan’s W. 36th Street. The venerable Keens (founded in 1885) is one of the most beautiful dining rooms in New York. Mutton chops, roast beef and steaks are the specialties. Carnivore heaven. Prices appear to be super expensive, but fear not: Portions are so huge that one shared entree easily satisfies two hearty eaters. HG and SJ shared crab cakes, prime rib, creamed spinach and Coffee Cantata (a dessert extravaganza of coffee ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. Also ordered the Prime RIb hash (topped with a perfectly fried egg). Had just a taste. It went into a doggy bag (as did much of the prime rib) for a next day meal at SJ’s household. Every aspect of the meal was great and the service was beyond compare. Prime ingredients cooked with straightforward professional simplicity. The day ended at the Airbnb apartment of SJ’s friend where the two guys drank good ale and watched Durant and Curry destroy the Cavaliers. Off to Providence the next morning with coffee and a bialy provided by SJ. A thoughtful gesture by SJ.

Quack Quack

May 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG is very fond of duck in all of the delectable bird’s cooked forms. Roast duck. Duck confit (a must in Paris). Peking duck. Barbecued duck in plain spoken Chinese restaurants. Decades ago when HG/BSK lived in spacious rent controlled comfort on New York’s Upper West Side, a foodie paradise, Sunday dinner was a roast duck fresh from the rotisserie in the Bretton Woods Hotel on 86th Street and Broadway. The juicy, crisp skinned quacker was accompanied by BSK’s salad of avocado, red onion and orange slices. An array of cheeses from Zabar’s with Z’s pumpernickel raisin bread. An abundance of red wine. Halvah with port. Sumptuous feast. HG/BSK revisited duck last night in the form of Thai Spicy Duck Salad (check out the recipe by Joshua Bousel on Google). The duck was a breast from D’Artagnan. HG scored the fat side of the breast (cooking left an abundance of duck fat, the perfect medium for lush fried potatoes). HG cut the meat in half and cast iron panbroiled it blood rare for HG and medium for BSK. The Bousel recipe calls for chunks of pineapple in the salad. BSK substituted slices of tangerine. At table, HG/BSK heated the dish up with daughter in law Exquisite Maiko’s Oni Sauce. Duck breast is pricey. Salad might be equally tasty using grilled chicken thighs or thin slices of pork. Will try since this recipe is a warm weather keeper.

Home Remedies From the Shtetl

May 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Following the example of President Roosevelt, daring fighter pilots, baseball players and, yes, doctors, HG began smoking cigarettes in 1942 at the age of 13. Puffed as many as three packs of Marlboros daily (they were the healthy choice because they had a filter). No surprise, HG was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1992. Saved by a brilliant surgeon, Dr. Victor Schramm. Arduous recovery. Stopped smoking on day of diagnosis. Now celebrating 25th anniversary of being smoke free. However, the 50 years of smoking did create problems. HG has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). However, due to advanced pharmacology and technology, HG functions nicely. Walks (slowly), swims daily, does gym work (light weights) and cardiology exercises (treadmill, bike, steps). It helps to have a vigilant and caring family. BSK is a diligent supervisor of diet, vitamins, exercise. And, of course, much is owed to SJ who discovered a lump on his Dad’s neck 25 years ago. Urged immediate diagnosis. Probably, saved HG’s life. From the very beginning of HG’s life, bronchial disease was a problem. Recurrent bronchitis every winter. HG’s Mom believed in the folk remedies of Plestyanitz, the “Shtetl” in Belorussia where she grew up over one hundred years ago. “Shtetl” is the descriptive of the small towns where Jews lived within the Russian Pale of Settlement. Sanitary and sewage facilities were primitive, Health care was medieval;. However, HG’s mom treated HG’s bronchitis the way she was treated in Russia. Basis of the cure was a “shvitz” (a sweat). Many blankets were piled on little HG. Then he drank a glass of “gugel mugel” (a glass of hot milk, honey and rye whiskey). This was followed by numerous hot cups of tea and honey. And, more blankets. Yes, little HG sweated in this Jewish version of an Indian sweat lodge. If this remedy didn’t work HG’s Mom took the drastic step of summoning the “bynkes” man. A “bynke” is a shallow glass suction cup. The “bynkes” man arrived with a leather case of the cups and a heating apparatus. An old little fellow with a long beard, he smelled strongly of whiskey and cheap cigars. Mom was forgiving. “Alteh shikker muz machen ah leben”. (an old drunk must make a living). The suction cups were heated to a robust temperature. Then they were applied with pressure to little HG’s chest and back. Ouch!! The belief was that the heat and the suction would draw out and ultimately destroy the disease. Surprisingly, it worked. It was infallible. The suction cups led to a Yiddish saying describing an ineffectual maneuver: “Helft vey toyten bynkes” It helps like dead (cold) bynkes.

Lawrence L. Langer

May 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a glaring omission from HG’s recent post, “Thanks Sam”. HG mentioned the careers of fellow members of Hurricanes, SAC., the club of HG’s Bronx youth. Carelessly, HG didn’t mention Lawrence L. Langer. Larry was a special pal of HG’s. A Professor at Simmons College, Boston, for many years until retirement in 1992, Larry is one of the foremost scholars and analysts of the Holocaust. He was the first academic to teach a course on the Holocaust. Among his many books are: “Holocaust Testimonies”, “Admitting the Holocaust”, “The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination”, “Art From the Ashes.” The books have received many awards and Larry has been given honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities. Larry’s analysis of the Holocaust has been rigorous and dispassionate. He has been skeptical of efforts to deflect attention from the realities of industrialized killing of Jews by emphasizing resistance and rescue. He has challenged the idea that the Holocaust–a mass murder–sanctifies the dignity of the human spirit. Larry established the idea of “choiceless choice” to describe the disintegration of moral reality for concentration camp inmates. Though grim and unsparing, Larry’s books are an essential read if you wish to understand modern history.

Thanks, Sam

April 30th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

As a Bronx youngster, it was obligatory to belong to a SAC (Social Athletic Club). HG’s club was the Hurricanes, SAC. Lots of athletics (basketball, softball, touch football) but not many social activities,just a few modest parties. Members of the Hurricanes sported golden satin jackets with the name of the club on the back and the member’s nickname (HG’s was “Geejay”) embroidered on the front. Unlike the ferocious clubs from the East Bronx — The “Fordham Baldies, “The Golden Guineas”, etc. — the Hurricanes were athletic and studious. There were three future doctors in the club (one was instrumental in proving a one-a-day-aspirin aspirin routine was a heart attack preventive); There were also three future lawyers, a New York State Supreme Court Judge, a leader in the women’s shoe industry, a West Pointer prominent in California defense industries, a dealer in rare books.

As an adult, HG was sponsored by the legendary real estate developer, Samuel J. LeFrak and became a member of Lotos Club. Much enjoyed the historic clubhouse just off Fifth Avenue and the convivial bar and dining room. The Lotos Club was formed in 1870 as a gathering place for men (women were admitted in 1977, more than a hundred years later) in the arts, journalism, theater, etc. The name was derived from the Tennyson poem, “The Lotos Eaters.” The club motto: “They came to a land where it was always afternoon.” The Lotos Club (unlike most other New York “gentlemen’s clubs”) had long been color blind. The late Bobby Short was a prominent member as are jazz artist Wynton Marsalis, Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and other distinguished African-Americans. Member Mark Twain called Lotos “the Ace of Clubs.” Present day literary members include Novelist/Journalist Tom Wolfe. Many folks from the theater including Renee Fleming, Angela Lansbury, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Christoper Plummer, Peter O’Toole and Elaine Stritch. Among the musicians are Yo Yo Ma and Isaac Stern. Early historic members included Andrew Carnegie and William Randolph Hearst. Since 1947, the Lotos clubhouse has been located at 6 E. 66th Street (a few steps from Fifth Avenue). It is a magnificent building with rich period details, designed by Richard Howland Hunt as a town dwelling for an oil heiress. HG held many festive office parties in its delightful surroundings. Quit when HG/BSK moved to Colorado. No club life until HG/BSK joined Sam’s Club last week. BSK said the Club offered big bargains on summer clothes. Turned out to be true. BSK scored some excellent pants and T-shirts as well as family gifts. HG bought bargain workout shorts. As HG strolled about the mammoth store, food (naturally) was on HG’s mind. Purchased a two-pound package of Member’s Mark Hardwood Smoked Pulled Pork. Modest price. Good natural flavorings. No chemicals, sugars, etc.. BSK cooked it last night. Flanked it with cheesy Geechie Boy stone ground grits and a chopped salad of spring onions and Kumatoes. The pulled pork was enhanced by splashes of Trader Joe’s Carolina Gold barbecue sauce (vinegar and mustard based). Hearty southern meal. Thanks, Sam Walton, for the tasty pulled pork. Thanks, Sam LeFrak, for The Lotos Club.

After Colorado:

Fried Fish

April 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of fried fish. During the summer, HG is a devotee of fish (haddock or cod) at Rick’s Fish and Chips in the town of St. Peter’s (five minute drive from HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home). When resident in New Mexico, HG relies upon Whole Foods for Petrale Sole from the Pacific. This firm fleshed fish is usually available at WF end of the week (HG calls in and order in advance). Dipped in beaten egg and rolled in fish fry seasoning. Then sizzled in hot canola oil. A treat with plenty of lemon juice and a dash of Tabasco. When HG was a journalist more than 60 years ago, a night of heavy boozing climaxed at an after hours coffee shop. Illegally, the shop served vodka and whiskey in coffee cups (to befuddle any lurking authorities). Accompaniment was chunks of cold fried fish covered with grated garlic and hot red pepper. Nice taste treat before retiring to the Russian baths on Second Avenue for steamy therapy. When HG was a college student at City College, he often haunted the streets of Harlem searching out delicious fried catfish sandwiches served on white bread with lemon, Tabasco and tartar sauce. Best fried fish ever were those served (once a summer) at the community hall (also a church and a music venue) in the Ocean Ridge neighborhood of Fire Island, NY. The late “Hobby” Miller was the cook and host. Fish were caught by Hobby and pals hours before in the Atlantic Ocean (Fire Island is a slim barrier beach with the Atlantic to the East and Great South Bay to the West). Hobby dusted the filets with salt and peppered flour and sizzled them in hot lard. Final touch was a splash of vinegar enhanced by hot peppers (a Louisiana condiment). Ice cold beer. Jolly eating. Ah, those balmy Fire Island summers.