The Last Bitter Greens
At first glance the neighborhood where I work seems like a wasteland in terms of architecture, but as time goes on and I ride the same route again and again, my eyes explore all of the the nooks and crannies. Careful observation over the same route for months now has unearthed remarkable remnants of something mysterious and grand that existed there before these complexes were built. I touch on the clues like milestones as the bus passes through.
Sometimes I think about the history of it. Something happened before they managed to raze the quartier completely, and for reason unknown to me, there are just a few gorgeous houses set back from the road behind tall metal gates, set inexplicably among cheap sandy looking unpainted cast concrete housing complexes. I wonder what this neighborhood might have been like if they'd managed to hold out. What made the community leave? Sometimes I wonder if this part of town was destroyed by bombs or fire during WWII and this is the rebuild. I suppose I could find out.
One of these days I'll pick up my camera on the way out the door in the morning and take it out on the bus and take some photos of what lingers in the nooks and shadows. I love to explore the neighborhood, even if it looks from the outset like there's nothing there. There is a whisper of deep beauty lurking in the shadows, on the edge of it, predominantly Art Nouveau, cool and mysterious, a built-in window box, a gate, a cast iron worked gate of inexplicabe beauty standing out from the nothingness, something in the ruins and miraculously, in the morning, passing by on the bus, I notice the nuances, they tell me that many of these seemingly vacant houses are indeed occupied.
Unfortunately the neighborhoods there aren't equipped anymore for any kind of local commerce. It still exists like limpets on sea rock clinging to some of the main thoroughfares, but not much. I still get out and walk through the neighborhood where I work every day. Walking during my lunch break today, I was at a crosswalk and because I was impatient and didn't want to stop, I turned the corner towards what I thought was just a vacant lot instead of waiting for the light to change. I passed by a building really empty, I could tell, because all of the windows were broken out.
That's when I saw, recessed from the street, a little place that sold vegetables and some well chosen regional products, a really nicely chosen selection of products, I coudn't help but notice. Veggies, cheeses mostly from the Alps, some jams, cakes, fruits and fresh herbs. I picked up some winter greens and parsley to make a salad tonight. A wedge of cheese and some spice bread. I will go back there again. Things were fresh.
Tonights salad was a mix of the chicory above, carrots, shallots, some greener lettuce, feta to counter the bitterness of the winter greens, sliced mushrooms, and a simple vinaigrette made with cider vinegar, lots of black pepper. It hit the spot.