The night was excessive for a Tuesday.
I reached Jackson, a street unfamiliar
to most East Village folk, a neighborhood
so Lower East Side you can still buy
Little Debbie cakes and Champagne Cola,
no NYU dorms or purple buses, no Starbucks.
They removed the Citi bikes – too many people
lounging on them, drinking wine, selling weed.
It was the fifth of the month. You can always
spot piles of belongings near the curb around
that time – someone failed to show in Housing
Court or just gave up after the final five-day
eviction notice. The sad and lonely accumulation
of somebody’s life had already been picked
over. Damp books and dish towels and single
socks and empty suitcases littered the sidewalk.
Always, there are empty suitcases in the mix.
A newish looking Armenian cookbook sat atop
a Fine Fare crate. Curious, I picked it up.
On the title page, it was written in neat script
Property of Juan Rosado, underlined twice.
I don’t follow recipes but I read them like poems.
Pignoli nuts, one half cup, onion sizzles,
lemon juice squeezed, hold firmly, broken
into small flowerlets, green, cut in desired
lengths, brown sugar, hot peppers, celery
tops, season water, cloves garlic minced
chopped crushed mix pickling spices finely
to serve keep in dark place ready to eat
in ten days leave in cold water drain and
press combine kimion allspice paprika
paprika garlic one for each bring bags
in at sundown dry uncovered for one more
week paprika sprinkle sauté until soft
I wondered if Juan Rosado liked Armenian
food or if he found it in the remnants
of another’s misfortune. Did he ever taste
the eggplant dip (broil until softened, cool)
or the fried cheese turnover (cut in small pieces
and knead), did he ever roast a pumpkin?
Carefully, I set the book in a clean spot.
Maybe the next potential chef will be
luckier than poor, homeless Juan Rosado.