Streets for People, a 1969 "primer for Americans" by the architect and social historian Bernard Rudofsky, is profusely illustrated with scenes of charming yet functional public spaces in Europe, North Africa, and East Asia. Many of Rudofsky's observations now seem quaint, especially those regarding U.S. urban blight, but his appreciation of public drinking fountains is timeless.
A chance encounter with "Roman Girl at a Fountain" brought the book back to mind. Though the subject of Leon Bonnat's 1875 genre painting
has more-waiflike proportions and a better outfit than the gadabouts of Rudofsky's black-and-white photos, their unabashed enjoyment is the same.
Also shown: a modern-day watering spot in a New York playground. I'm pretty sure it still works, if you lean down and push hard.
West Indian and West African fare were in my sights during a visit to Canarsie, Brooklyn, the last stop on Rockaway Parkway-bound L trains. It's a long haul from Manhattan, so I was well-supplied with reading material, but kiosks like this are always worth a once-over — they have much to tell about the folks who use the station every day.
Of the four newspapers draped in front, the third, The Final Call ("the official communications organ of the Nation of Islam"), jibed most readily with what little I knew about local demographics. To its left, however, were the Polish newspapers Nowy Dziennik and Super Express; to its right was The Irish Echo. Though this day I couldn't make time to confirm, the odds are good that somewhere close you can get your hands on the corresponding pierogi and shepherd's pie.
Perusing the newsstand Rockaway Pkwy. station, Canarsie, Brooklyn
On reading the name "tania logg" in the window of this West Indian storefront, I imagined something shaped like, well, a log. Perhaps it would resemble a conkie. On the contrary, the counterwoman said, it's a porridge, though the spoon she provided was superfluous; my vanilla-scented serving (small, about 16 oz., $4) was thin enough to drink straight down. (It's very possible that I got the last of the batch and that the usual consistency is thicker.) The namesake tuberlike vegetables, which finely grated when preparing the porridge, are known as eddoes in much of the Caribbean. The owner of New Topps hails from St. Vincent, though a smaller flag of Grenada also flies out front; the name "tania" is apparently native to one or both of those island nations. I don't know about "logg."
Tania logg, oildown, and curry crab and dumplings are available Friday and Saturday only. Earlier is probably wiser. The roti, suggested the counterman, is a good bet at any time.
"Place your orders NOW for Thanksgiving," exhorted the flyer. This seemed to be a matter of course for Canarsie; several other Jamaican food shops in the neighborhood made similar pitches. Across the way, a Grenadian bakery-restaurant advertised a complete turkey dinner. The bird, by the looks of things, would be cooked to a more traditional recipe, but the choices of hors d'oeuvres included beef patties and codfish cakes.
Also shown, from years past: a flyer offering "American turkey with Odessa-style stuffing" (sadly, I came upon it in December) and a series of "Happy Thanksgiving!!!" supermarket banners for provisions including paticas de cerdo. The market supplied the holiday savings; the customers, presumably, supplied their own recipes for pig's feet.
"Jerk turkey" Tasty Delicious Bakery & Restaurant, Canarsie, Brooklyn (2013) "American turkey with Odessa-style stuffing" Brighton Beach, Brooklyn (2012) "Happy Thanksgiving!!! Save on pig's feet" Stamford, Connecticut (2009)
"Calas" confused me; I knew the name only from New Orleans, where it describes a nearly vanished deep-fried rice cake. More fittingly for a meat market, it's also a Latin American synonym for pork shoulder, or pernil, I discovered.
"Flying fish" I knew by reputation — and even first-hand, through a sandwich — but at the market the fish were available only in six-packs, sealed in plastic bags, on an unromantic shelf in the freezer.
Terminal Seafood and Meat 402 East 83rd St. (near Foster Ave.), beside the Brooklyn Terminal Market, Canarsie, Brooklyn 718-209-9300
(This venue is closed.) The awning bears the banners of both Italy and Haiti, though since the words "pizza" and "Italian," and the artwork of a pizziaolo holding his handiwork, are partly covered, recently this restaurant may have offered only West Indian chow. Nowadays it's not serving at all; click on the photo for a better look, and you'll spot the "vacate" notices affixed to the door.
Dan's Pizza-Restaurant 1151 East 92nd St. (Flatlands-Conklin Ave.), Canarsie, Brooklyn