Renee is on her way to Norway and I am here, alone, in the apartment. It’s more fun when she’s here, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy my two weeks in the City. About half of my time is already scheduled.
Yesterday was Dominican day in New York. We tried to go to a Dominican street fair, but I forgot the directions and we never got there. We wandered around 190th St. and Broadway finally getting on a bus to the Washington Heights I’m most familiar with: 175th St. and Broadway. We went to a Dominican steak house and had something called Mofongo, described as mashed plantains, on the menu. The mofongo we got had chicken and mashed plantains, and we weren’t sure what else. It certainly did not have the garlic that’s in the recipe I referenced. It came to us looking like it had been molded in a flower pot or coffee can. The chicken had been shredded, some of it so thin it looked like shredded coconut sticking out of the bits of plantain, which were not the consistency of mashed potatoes but more like small chunks. I’m not sure what glued it all together, but it was very dry. I like plantains, mostly, and I’m sure this dish has possibility, but not at that restaurant.
We came back to the apartment, then just before dusk went for a walk on the esplanade along the East River and crossed the foot bridge to Ward’s and Randall’s Island. Although it was very hot all day there was a cool breeze off the river as we walked. We finished the day with sushi and tempura at a nearby sushi house.
This morning I went to the Japan Tourist Office in Rockefeller Center and picked up about 2 pounds of printed matter, including train schedules and railpass info, that I had to carry with me for the rest of the day. I hope to make most of my arrangements for my trip to Japan before I leave New York, since it is most convenient to do it here. There is no Japan Tourist Office in Pittsburgh.
After the tourist office I went to Kinokuniya Bookstore, also in Rockefeller Center. They carry both English and Japanese books. As I browsed amongst the Japanese books I realized how totally impenetrable the language is for me and how unlikely it is I will ever learn it. All those squiggly shapes never seem to remain in my brain. What a pity! I’m told the language is one of the most difficult to learn because the grammar changes depending on whom you are speaking to. I would just like to learn the alphabets (3) so I could begin to read it.
I finished the day at the American Museum of Natural History to see the Gold exhibit. It was quite interesting; I learned a lot about gold I never knew before. But I had to sit down often and before I finished the exhibit I felt like I was walking on my knees. I suppose I’m being too hard on myself. I did a lot of walking around Rockefeller Center before I got to the museum, but I keep thinking I should be able to do more. I plan to go back there to see the exhibit about mythical animals. I did not have enough energy to do both in one day, especially carrying my two pounds of paper.
One thing I almost forgot. I know I’ve written this before: the best thing about New York is encountering the unexpected when you think you’ve seen it all before. I began the day by taking the subway to Grand Central. Instead of walking directly out to the street I rode an escalator up to the Metlife, formerly Panam, building and wandered around looking for an exit. In the lobby at Vanderbilt Avenue I found a wonderful Richard Lippold sculpture I had never seen before: our globe enveloped in rays of sunshine. I took some pictures and you can see a not very good picture at the bottom of this page about the building. That got my day off to a great start.