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Polymerase chain reaction is a cornerstone of molecular biology research. Using short pieces of single-stranded DNA called primers the previously invisible becomes tangible.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reconnaissance

Skin tight orange corduroy jeans and a filthy grey hoodie. Such was the wear of the beggar on the 1 this afternoon. He asked for kindness, he asked for food. I could see, however, that he was already laden with the generosity of others. At least two wrapped half sandwiches and a bottle of water overflowed his pockets. Unfortunately he was probably trying to scrape enough money together for drugs.

“Please, I’m homeless and I’m hungry,” he literally cried.

When I lived here, I grew accustomed to carrying around what was left of my lunch or very occasional dinner out. It’s one of the things you learn living in a city where two humans can be separated by millions in personal wealth but mere inches in physical space. The vast majority of us fall somewhere in between.

I was scouting a restaurant. I’m meeting with friends for dinner next Friday and I wanted to find a clean, low key place with good food and atmosphere. Krik Krak is a small Haitian takeout with very limited seating. I think I counted three tables for four and as many tables for two. It is located on the Upper West Side in a lower to middle class sliver sandwiched between the rich of Riverside and super rich of Central Park West.

I began my meal with Akra De Malanga, fried dumplings made from malanga root paste and Haitian spices served with a spicy hot vinegar dipping sauce. I’m not good distinguishing one kind of hot from another, but I’m guessing this was a regular habanero, as opposed to a Caribbean Red Hot chilli based sauce. Not bad.

For the main course I had Cabrit En Sauce, goat meat simmered in creole sauce. The goat was served with a side of red beans and rice. The sauce had paprika, shallot and garlic, though it could also have been tomato based. I think there might have been cumin or coriander in there as well. When I go back I’ll see if I can tease a couple of hints from the staff. The side dish looked like Jamaican “peas and rice”, however, this version was less sweet and a little more smoky. I’m guessing no coconut milk but perhaps some cumin.

The waitress was pleasant, helpful and attentive. The d├ęcor was just enough to elevate it above just a takeout. It’s BYOB, so I’ll try to remember a liquor to mix with passion fruit or cola lacaye.

Although I didn’t have room for dessert, I ordered a slice of Haitian pound cake to go. The proprietor told me they didn’t have pound cake on Sunday’s and that rum cake was the cake of the day. Hmm, I think I’ve found my Caribbean baker connection.

The downtown subway was much more crowed than the one coming uptown. Nobody asked for food.

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