My most restful nights have been by the sea.
I can sit on a vinyl recliner and let the air wash my face. The sea
air is delicious and full of extra oxygen. It is especially nutritious
and satisfying to breathe. The wind lifts ancient minerals off the
waves. They trickle through the nasal epithelium and tickle the brain.
My lips tingle. My most restful nights have been by the sea.
If you start from Coney Island and follow the sea you will eventually find Brighton Beach.
Last Saturday looked Moscovian. Gray and white clouds dwarfed the sand
and sucking waves. Highrise apartments were flat prints on the skyline.
The subway lurches across metal stilts and shelters beneath its
pantaloons a romantic avenue of liquor stores, groceries and restaurants
and fruit markets, Soviet electronics, cell phones, CDs and VHS tapes,
souvenirs, dance halls and nightclubs, cheap insurance, doctors, etc. An
alternative universe has budded off the train and dangles, contained by
its own surface tension—two blocks away from the umbilical bubble, you
are in dark uterine trenches, suburban, overgrown and peeling like
seashore homes tend to during unseasonably cool summers. Even compared
to Flushing or Sunset Park, Brighton Beach is glowering and mysterious.
With less friendly teenagers and more grumping octogenarians,
maneuvering through the barricaded shops can be stifling. Frankly, if
you are young and hanging out you considered a threat to general order
and unwanted. Although we encountered welcoming and interested
faces, we also met rude clerks who wanted nothing to do with a few
Russian Jews strung out along a genealogical strand. When exploring this
neighborhood, the intrepid cosmopolitan must prepare for the best:
confusion and outright hostility. Continue reading
Zach B., Yale University
When I came home from college for winter break, my Dad requested that
I bake him a raisin pie, also known as “funeral pie.” A favorite of Old
Order Mennonites and the Amish, raisin pies were traditionally baked
for funerals due to the availability of ingredients on short notice and
its ability to keep well for several days at room temperature.
Once again I decided to attempt a homemade crust, using a 3-2-1 ratio
recipe. Unfortunately, I must have added far too much shortening (a
half butter, half shortening crust for a balance between flavor and
flakiness), as the dough was extremely sticky, not pea sized crumbles of
fat. So I added another quarter cup of flour, and then another…
and another, until the consistency felt correct.
I listed Sushi Yasuda as number ten on my 2010 bottom ten list.
Why? In January 2011, the restaurant’s namesake chef, Naomichi Yasuda,
is leaving to open a small sushi bar in Japan. Just a few weeks
after I arrived at Columbia as a freshman, I turned 19. Without my
family and closest friends, I felt alone on my birthday. In order to
celebrate, I went to Sushi Yasuda, seeking an education in nigiri from
one of New York’s most acclaimed practitioners. Notorious for enforcing a
set of sushi-eating rules and his uncompromising fish, Yasuda ruled the
sushi bar with authoritarian precision. With his smiling eyes and deft
hands, however, he made even the most inexperienced diners feel welcome.
I wrote about my dinner for the Columbia Daily Spectator’s now defunct blog, Spectacle. My
birthday blues obliterated, I left Sushi Yasuda confident that I could
return in the future after visiting New York’s other noteworthy sushi
Zach B., Yale University
The world of New Haven burritos is a wide and varied one. From
national chains like Moe’s Southwestern Grill, to the numerous carts
lining Elm and York streets, burritos are a common choice for quick
lunch. In contrast to the more well known spots, many people walk right
by a small restaurant called La Granja (The Farm), located on Whitney