Andorra redux

October 23, 2008

Because we couldn’t eat real Andorran food prepared by real Andorrans we went to Mercat in Manhattan to try Catalan food made by people who had once visited Catalonia. The room was tastefully lit and we sat at a heavy wooden table in the back of the restaurant. There were two shallow baskets containing plum tomatoes and green chilies on the counter in front of the open kitchen. A walk-in wine cellar, a large shelf, was built in to the wall above our heads.

On the very back wall of Mercat was painted a mural that looked like a drawing. In it, what I took to be a Spanish family sat around a long table. The women wore handkerchiefs on their heads and the man wore the clothes of a laborer. On the table were dishes and one steaming pot.  Maybe they were waiting for a more substantial repast, maybe someone outside the scene was preparing pots filled with rabbit stew and bringing in the wineskin from where it had been hung the previous night, but their eyes revealed their world to us. The artist included simple, single short lines, parallel to each other above and below the simple black dot eyeballs of each of her subjects denoting worry. These people were tired, and the lines in their faces betrayed their weariness and their fear that they would have to scrape by for another few days. They were tired and had little to share with us. They may have resented our intrusion into their lives.

In light of our recent forays into the outer boroughs and our research into our next country, Angola, we had started to expect welcomes into worlds that weren’t our own, but this trip served as a reminder that a lot of what people seem to be whispering and writing about Manhattan may regrettably be true. As we studied our surroundings, I couldn’t help but think that the worn down cobblestones running just outside had witnessed so much more than the conversations and goings-on of the well to do residents that lived at the architectural monstrosity across the street at 40 Bond.

40 Bond St, NYC

40 Bond St, NYC. Photo by Phillip Ritz

We had some interesting things. Grilled chilis, some spicy potatoes, a pasta with shrimp and black squid ink sauce. We had a decent bottle of wine and some cheese.  Everything was pretty good, but a tad expensive.  Maybe we’re the peasants, striving for something we think might sometime be attainable.  Peasants are supposed to be marginalized, some things are meant for people that can truly enjoy and understand them.  I felt that the simple, comfortable food here was somehow meant to be way beyond us.  We finished our bottle of wine and went to Red Mango.


One Response to “Andorra redux”

  1. Mark Says:

    I found it…. Wow, this is is really neat. Looks very professional. I am ready to read all the way to Zimbabwe

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