This carbonated beverage (300 ml., $1.29) was both bitter and sweet at once, more of a distraction than a refreshment. I did note with amusement that although the brand name is spelled with three Zs, my friend's diet mauby, from a different maker, spells its name with only two.
More interesting is the case of mauby and mabi: Are they one and the same? Some sources suggest that this is a single beverage, with various spellings, and muddy any distinctions regarding a key ingredient, the bark of certain trees in the Colubrina genus. One EIT reader, however, maintains that the two taste "vastly different" (thanks for weighing in, No/Deli!), which jibes with my own impression. After a long-ago visit to another vendor, Papo Frutas, I observed that mauby is typically much less sweet than mabi, to the point of astringency.
Two different barks may explain the two different flavors. The Dominican proprietor of Papo Frutas, who did business from a repurposed school bus, relied on a large, professionally printed banner to advertise his wares. Among them was "mabi de bouco Indio." This colloquial name, more often spelled behuco Indio, denotes one particular species of tree from the genus in question: Colubrina elliptica. A glance at the label on my Mauby Fizzz indicates that it was made in Trinidad and Tobago using extract of the bark from a different species: Colubrina arborescens. Other labels in my photo archives support this distinction. More corroboration is needed, however, except as regards my personal preference: I like mabi more.
Country Coco 3114 Church Ave. (East 31st-East 32nd Sts.), Flatbush, Brooklyn
On a hot day in another neighborhood, a double line of traffic at a long light might be an opportunity to trot out bottles of water; here it was an occasion for quenepas. Stripped of its thin green rind, the quenepa (keh-Nay-pah) reveals a pulpy mass that smacks of sweet lime and banana. Worked around in the mouth, it offers precious little juice and a rather large pit.
Buy quenepas for the road, and ultimately you'll be left with a bagful of rinds and pits, and sticky fingers to boot. If not refreshed, at least you'll have a good grip on the wheel.
With a name like mamba, it has to have a bite. Years back I encountered this style of spicy peanut butter in Miami's community of Little Haiti. Later I found something along those lines at New York's Haitian Day Parade and Festival, but the packaged product had proved elusive till now.
A old spelling system of Indonesia permitted use of the numeral "2" to deal with doubled words. The numeral might appear inline or as superscript; gado-gado, for example, would be rendered "gado2" or as a seeming "gado squared." Under a more recent spelling system the practice has been deprecated, but it is still employed in casual usage.
And now this quirk of spelling has popped up in the Haitian community, too. (Any East Indies-West Indies connection? I can't say.) After an extended closure, this casual restaurant has reopened with a new logo that perhaps is intended to give a boost to franchising opportunities ("coming soon," according to a sign in the window). "Yo Yo Fritaille" is more or less an emphatic way of saying, "here you can find a fried combo of meats and tubers." "Delicious" is implicit.
Yo Yo Fritaille 1758 Nostrand Ave. (Clarendon Rd.-Ave. D), Flatbush, Brooklyn 718-676-1636 (One of several locations in Brooklyn and Queens)
An outside confectioner supplies ABC with these multilayered slices of douce Macos (about a half-pound, $6). Spellings vary widely: The first part, often rendered "dous," signifies "sweet"; the second, sometimes given as Makos, Marcos, and Macoss, names a family with roots in Petit-Goâve, Haiti. Milk, condensed milk, and sugar account for the calories; some versions (though not this one) also include butter. Cinnamon, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla are the target flavors, achieved in part through the addition of brown and pink cake icing. Though not as creamy as its American counterpart, essentially this is rainbow Haitian fudge. Best sliced thin.
Douce Macos is never in great supply. If you hope to try it, best to call ahead.
A chicken leg and sweet corn nuggets, the first two items pictured in the window menu, are inexpensive fried fare at Chinese restaurants like this in many poorer, demographically mixed neighborhoods. The other items, though not ready to eat, are evidently available for takeout, too: raw shrimp, salad oil, tomato ketchup, and vinegar, all but the last in bulk quantities.
A mini-grocery on restaurant premises is not unusual, though typically these serve, at least in part, to showcase the quality of suppliers and their provisions or the caliber of industry friends and colleagues. Here the rationale is more elemental: to tap into an additional revenue stream, probably a narrow one, by channeling wholesale savings to restaurant customers and passersby alike.
"We can get it for you wholesale" Flatbush, Brooklyn