"If nature fails, your food may remain undigested, leaving you headachy and irritable," counseled an old radio ad from the makers of Carter's Little Liver Pills. Though its laxative pills are still manufactured today, Carter's was required to remove "liver" from the name after a protracted legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission in the 1940s and '50s.
It being baseball season, my first impression was rows of red double stitches; a closer look revealed the weathered but unmistakable outlines of several stalks of grain. I didn't know anything more about the prior or current use of these pale cylindrical towers, but several follow-up emails helped fill in the blanks (see the comments).
P. Ballantine & Sons Former brewery seen from St. Charles St., near the Ironbound Recreation Center, Newark, New Jersey
No relation to the pungent paste — at least, not directly. This sandwich board was stationed on the sidewalk outside a casual eatery whose patrons are chiefly Brazilians, not Brits, and "marmitex," I later discovered, is Portuguese for "box lunch." Likely it shares an etymology with "marmite," the steep-sided, covered French cookpot. As it happens, the British sandwich spread was originally sold in an earthenware container that resembles a marmite — which nowadays is still depicted on the label.
"Marmitex" Seen outside Kibom Restaurant 61 Wilson Ave. (Paterson-Hensler Sts.), Newark, New Jersey 973-817-8187
Though the young Tony Soprano lived here, today you're likely to hear Portuguese or, increasingly, Spanish in Newark's multi-ethnic Ironbound neighborhood. It's certainly much easier to find comida Ecuatoriana than a pizza Margherita.
The former Roberto's Pizza Café 165 Ferry Street, Newark, New Jersey
Coffee ($1), no donuts. Despite the sign and the other lingering fixtures, like footrests on the stools at the lunch counter, the menu is almost exclusively Peruvian. Nothing stood out, except for the curious display of orange gelatin desserts in the display case by the door.
Sip-N-Dunk 147 Kearny Ave., Kearny, New Jersey 201-997-3994
Disconcertingly rectangular slab of fish in my cod and chips (lunch portion; $9), though under its batter, the fish was flaky and very tasty. Fries were fine; the cole slaw was only slightly less liquid than the tartar sauce.
The Thistle Restaurant 87 Kearny Ave., Kearny, New Jersey 201-998-3443
One-stop destination for Portuguese food and drink; witness the extra-large assortment of bacalhau. If salt cod isn't on your shopping list, Mimoso drinkable yogurt, coconut flavor ($1.49) is a pretty good thirst-quencher.
A.J. Seabra's Supermarket 260 Lafayette St., Newark, New Jersey 973-589-8606