thoughts on food, culture, and community

Archive for the month “November, 2011”

Friday Photo: Markets Around the World

I am fascinated by stores: sparkling cheap jewelry made to look expensive only in bright lighting, polished plates in geometric shapes, the shelves of spices in the baking aisle, the spines of new books.  I adore entering a Sheetz and twirling amid the Twix bars to my right, and suddenly being distracted by the Chex Mix to my left then realizing that I could buy any flavor of Red Bull that I want.  I don’t even know if Red Bull has flavors, but it doesn’t matter!  It’s all within reach!  Look at the colors!!  Everything’s possible!!!

On this Black Friday, it would seem appropriate to comment that I’m an ideal shopper, except for the fact that I only love looking at stores, not buying the products within them.  In my opinion, a group of people can be best understood through the act of buying and selling, because this action discloses a culture’s needs and priorities, perceived or otherwise.  In Chile, stores selling similar products are located in the same area of the city — a mall of hair salons, an alley of hot dog vendors, a street of antiques — to increase efficiency.  In France, bakeries open early because fresh bread is bought almost daily. In Italy, I’ve heard that it’s bad luck for a street vendor to lose his first sale of the day, so he’s often willing to negotiate for a lower price.  In Trinidad, boiled corn, still in the husk, is available on the side of the highways — you just veer off on the shoulder and roll down your window.  When buying and selling, convenience, need, creativity, and want all come into play.

On Black Friday in 2007, I was stuck on a crowded train between Luxembourg City and Brussels with a woman who was on the phone directing a jewelry purchase in New York.  Today, however, in honor of my friend Kara who posted a similar set of photos on her blog, I post a few photos of markets around the world, where what’s on sale reflects somehow we somehow all live through our consumerism — for better or for worse.

buying breadfruit in Trinidad

shopping district in Lille, France

cheese market in the Netherlands

calves for sale at the Greencastle Livestock Market in Greencastle, Pennsylvania

buying morning newspapers in Santiago, Chile

Friday Photo: World War I: Personal Photos of the Battlefields

One week ago was the anniversary of the end of World War I — the Great War which took 10 million lives.  On November 11, 1918, the armistice was signed in a train car in the woods east of Compiègne, France, a train car which I visited by bike with Lynn Palermo during our backpacking trip in July 2010. This trip took us along almost 270 miles of the Western Front, 76 of which we walked.  Through our footsteps, I realized that war is not just an event on the news or in the history books; it is disease that cripples a nation in a way that is only still visible in its landscape.

To fully appreciate the following post, first read this article by Mail Online which showcases some stunning photography by British photographer Michael St. Maur Sheil of the scars left behind in present-day France.  I recognized many of his scenes and have duplicated my own photography below.

shadows shifting on the grass-grown trenches at Beaumont-Hamel, France
Thieval Memorial, one of the largest British war memorials, commemorates 17,000 dead or missing

early evening twilight at the Thieval Memorial, one of Great Britain's largest war memorials, commemorating 73,537 fallen English and South African troops

Hawthorn Ridge mine crater near La Boisselle, created by the detonation of 40,000 pounds of explosives

underground trenches at Arras, France, underneath la Grande Place

explosives dug out of the field of Philippe, a farmer and a Couchsurfer near Albert, France, with whom we stayed for the night

a German national cemetery along la Chemin des Dames north of Reims, France, of 6,000 crosses marking 12,000 dead

Friday Photo: Harrisburg Humor

On a daily basis, I don’t sense that Harrisburg failed for bankruptcy in October and has since been tottered on the brink of a state takeover of its finances—in any area except its potholes.  When I was in Trinidad in 2010, a summer downpour washed out a portion of a major highway, and I realized for the first time that the stability of a country’s roads and bridges is the most visible (and, perhaps, under-appreciated) indication of a nation’s wealth.

Now, it’s Second Street of cash-strapped Harrisburg acts as a constant reminder of the city’s financial status.  “The city’s fiscal crisis has spilled into the streets,” points out writer Eric Veronikis in a July 2011 article.

It’s not enough that water doesn’t drain beside the sidewalk next to my house, or that the street drain floods on the intersection of Kelker and Front, forcing drivers to merge onto Front Street by driving through several inches of standing water.  The potholes on Second Street north of Forster are as thick as land minds, exploding under your tires and knocking your vehicle out of alignment if you—for shame!—were by chance actually watching the driver in front of you rather than scrutinizing the quality of the pavement.

Rush hour drivers have developed a considerable art of swerving and straddling the holes north of Verbeke, but they’re not the majority.  My mechanic swears that he gets more complaints than he’s ever from customers who simply say, “I don’t know what happened—I was driving in the city, and something on my car just fell off…

A portion of the far right lane of Second Street next to Sassafrass just collapsed a few weeks ago.  Rumors called it a sinkhole. The collapsed portion was not marked by warning signs; instead, the equivalent of a couple of sawhorse barricades were rearranged around the crumble.  Since then–until today, when repair work has begun–nothing else had been done other than the occasionally rearrangement of the sawhorses, which fell over, I suppose, due to the vibration of the traffic.

I understand the difficulty of a public works department with little money.  But all the same, because of all of this, I appreciated the spectacle which appeared a few days before the October 29 snowfall: someone hung the makeshift barricade with a series of tiny ghosts cut out of plastic grocery bag and dotted with Sharpe marker eyes.  The team of phantoms fluttered graciously when drivers passed. Whether it was mockery of the system or the ghost of Harrisburg past, I do not know, but I do like to think at least someone around this neighborhood still has a sense of humor.

North Second Street, Harrisburg; October 2011

Dads and daughters enjoy Londonderry township’s dance

The following is taken from an interview of participants at Londonderry township’s Fifth Annual Daddy-Daughter dance.  An abridged version appeared in The Patriot-News on Friday, October 28, 2011.

Daddy-daughter dance, Sunset Golf Course Clubhouse, October 2011

WHITE TIGHTS, BLACK TIES: Londonderry townhip fathers and daughters celebrated one another at the fifth annual Daddy-Daughter dance, a heartwarming evening of games, prizes, and music at the Sunset Golf Course Clubhouse on Friday, October 14.  “It’s hard to tell who appreciates the dance more, the daughters or the daughters,” says coordinator Beth Graham. Thirty-seven couples were in attendance for professional photographs, a food buffet, and the crowning of a king and queen.

MILES OF SMILES (clockwise from top): Richard Silks with granddaughters, Kylie, Alex, and Cheyenne of Cedar Manor

WHO: Richard Silks, Cedar Manor
GRANDDAUGHTERS: Alex, 5; Kylie, 9; Cheyenne, 12

He says…
–       GRANDDAUGHTERS’ BEST QUALITIES: “Alex makes her own cheers that she always has to share.  Kylie does jigsaw puzzles with me. Cheyenne is great at spending quality time.”
–       BEST PART OF THE EVENING: “The whole night.  It puts memories into my granddaughters’ lives, the kind you can never replace.”

PERFECT PAIR: Kailynn White, 7, with father Steve White, Elizabethtown

WHO: Kailynn White, 7
FATHER: Steve White, Elizabethtown
PARTICIPATION: “We’ve been coming for three years.”

She says…
–       BEST PART OF EVENING: “I love dancing with my friends.”
–       FAVORITE DRESS-UP ACCESSORY: “My high heels.”
–       DAD’S BEST ASSET: “He’s great because he loves me.”

FIRST DANCE: Jeff Poor with Ellie, 5, of Elizabethtown

WHO: Jeff Poor, Elizabethtown
DAUGHTER: Ellie, 5
PARTICIPATION: “It’s our first year, but we were crowned dance King and Queen!”

He says…
–       OVERALL IMPRESSION: “The dance is a neat way to get dads and daughters out together before the girls get too old.”
–       ELLIE’S GREATEST ASSET: “Her energy, her fresh outlook, her innocence.”

She says…
–       FAVORITE DRESS-UP ACCESSORY: “This dress.”
–       DAD’S FAVORITE FOOD: “He makes good bacon.”
–       BEST PART OF THE EVENING: “I won the contest.”

DOUBLE DIP: (from left) Andy and Rylee Hartwick, 6, of Middletown with Aaron and Paige Adelman, 7, of Londonderry township

WHO: Andy Hartwick, Middletown
DAUGHTER: Rylee Hartwick, 6

He says…
–       FAVORITE SHARED ACTIVITY: “We go fishing together.  She’s my girl.”

DANCE LIKE THIS: Lucy Rodgers, 10, and her father Simon of Harrisburg

WHO: Lucy Rogers, 10
DAD: Simon Rogers, Harrisburg
PARTICIPATION: “This is our third year coming to the dance.”

She says…
–       BEST PART OF EVENING: “The limbo.  I won two years in a row!”

He says…
–       FAVORITE EVENING MEMORY: “Just seeing Lucy smile.  It melts my heart.”
–       LUCY’S GREATEST ASSET: “Her self-assuredness.”

Friday Photo: Political Climate

Political Climate: A record-breaking snowstorm hit the northeast on Saturday, October 29, 2011, 11 days before Election Day--a day which, in contrast, is predicted to enjoy sunny skies and a high of 64 degrees.



Local band Colebrook Road aims to ‘draw people’

Colebrook Road (left to right): Joe McAnuty of Harrisburg, fiddle and vocals; Marcus Weaver of Elizabethtown, banjo and vocals; Wade Yankey of Harrisburg, mandolin; Jesse Eisebise of Lower Swatara Twp., guitar; and Mike Vitale of Millersville, bass and vocals.

The name Colebrook Road is both a bluegrass band — and a place. As a band, it’s a five-member musical powerhouse based in Harrisburg who has written Pennsylvania-inspired songs like “Dry Ground Blues” and “Delta Skunk” and has performed in various venues, including many across the mid-state. As a street, Colebrook Road runs across Central Pennsylvania through Dauphin, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties, and represents many members’ childhood, connection to the land, and life philosophy. I spoke to the band Colebrook Road in October about their connection to community in an article recently published in The Patriot-News.

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