3 September 2017
A young woman with obvious Asian features was the fourth passenger in a ride-share cab along with three of us (friends) who were in the cab before her. She apologized as if she were intruding and settled into her cell phone.
A few minutes into the ride, the three of us, sotto voce, like we were talking in an elevator, trying not to interrupt someone else’s private thoughts, were discussing where in New York to get the best bagels. The new passenger, engrossed, as she seemed to be, in text messaging with a friend she was going to visit, looked up like she was part of the conversation all along and said, assuredly, it was Black Seed Bagels. It would have been the same as if I were in a cab with three Asians in Beijing, who were discussing where to get the freshest bok choi and I, looking distractedly out the cab window, threw out the name of a food market.
Roberta, my lady friend, demurred about the bagels. While admitting that Black Seed’s were good, especially at their downtown location, she thought Zabar’s were better. Our Asian companion, very personable and brightly articulate, who was working at her first job out of college at a Wall Street financial firm said, “just so you don’t think I’m blowing smoke out of my ass” (her words…evidently she was not one to bleep words just because older folks were nearby…bless her), I come by my bagel opinions honestly. My father is a New York Jew…born in Brooklyn.
Doubling down on her knowledge of New York Jewish cuisine, she tipped us off that Russ and Daughters was still the best place to get lox…better than Barney Greengrass. But their bagels are lousy, so you get the fish from them, but bagels elsewhere. We started to branch out into the town’s best pastrami, deciding that Katz’s, down the street from Russ and Daughters, was too fatty, but a call rang into her cell phone.
Her conversation, as intimate as if we were all in a phone booth together, was with her mother, whom she told, excitedly, that she had had a second interview with Facebook and they were now recruiting her. While trying to seem casual about it, her voice betrayed a young woman, pleased to be on such a fast-track, as she no doubt was. It was a big deal, being chased by Facebook. But before any more of her biography could be written in the cab, the cabbie pulled up to her stop and off she went, telling us it was such a fun ride.
The glories of pastrami would have to wait for another day.