The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Peasant Bread in Old Caledonia
People often stop me on the street and say "Hey, Q, what's with calling our neighborhood Caledonia?" Or rather, if they did, this is what I would say:
The Caledonian Hospital was once the soul of the neighborhood, standing majestically at St. Paul's and Parkside. Many a famous Flatbush Caledonian was born there, from Kevin Bacon to half of the surviving members of the rock band Survivor. Recently the decaying building was purchased by a developer named Chetrit for $15 million, and that's the truth, though the part about Kevin Bacan and Survivor is most definitely a filthy rumor started right here by yours truly.
Caledonia of lore refers to Scotland, and the word was in use throughout the middle ages -- a relic of the name given by the Roman Empire. During the middle ages, most people lived as peasants, and their bread has been making a resurgence. In fact, I paid $5 for a loaf of Peasant Bread just the other day, and I have to say that if I'm going to pay half a sawbuck for a few slices of bread I'd really rather it not be too tough to chew. I'm quite certain that no self-respecting courtier would have been caught dead eating peasant bread, and if there's one era of history we don't need to glamorize it's certainly the European Dark Ages.
I have pretty good teeth, but I can barely rip through a piece of the stuff, which leads me to wonder whether this Bread Alone company is worth its weight in dough. Because if the current British smile is any indication, a medieval peasant's teeth must have been horrendous, and I doubt very much that they would have spent what little "downtime" they had baking bread that was thoroughly unchewable. I mean take a gander at the authentic color photo above, taken sometime during the early 1100's.
Which reminds me, if you have a recommendation of a good dentist in the neighborhood, I'm all ears.