Friday, December 07, 2018

Tamka life

Now that you know the name of my street, I can tell you more about what it's like to (fleetingly!) live here.

Tamka is a narrow road, making its way from the city center, down the hill toward the River Vistula, where it links to a bridge that will take you to Warsaw's still up and coming left bank (Praga). It's not thought to be a major artery (too narrow for that), but still, Warsaw people know where Tamka is.

My apartment building stands right at the intersection of two neighborhoods: City Center and Powisle. City Center (Srodmiescie) is where I grew up. 99% of my life took place within its perimeters. It feel fitting to be just at the edge of it now. Powisle, on the other hand, is a small neighborhood that borders the river and here you see progress: a nothing set of blocks is turning out to be hip and funky fun, at the same time that much of the old Warsaw character still remains. There are remains of prewar buildings (mine is one of them), there are a lot of modest but not unattractive post war apartment houses. There are the old stores -- shops that specialize in toys, breads, yarns, bras -- you name it! And new ones: a handful of restaurants that cater to the young vibe of the neighborhood, an Italian wine and deli store, a fish monger, and a few solidly good cafes.

So I have the best of both worlds. That and a ten minute walk to the University, the metro line, and Old Town. It's as good as it can get.

My apartment building appears to have the young and the old -- old timers who have lived here possibly forever. I mean -- old. And frankly, poor. I have honestly never seen such apartment neglect as that of my neighbor below. He hasn't the cash to do anything with it. "Poor as a church mouse" -- he says of himself. How about the young? I don't know much about them. I see a stroller standing in the hallway. There must be a baby here. I've never seen her/him. I understand that a handful of people are like me -- only occasional residents. They live abroad -- likely part of the millions that seek better economic fortunes in Germany, England, elsewhere. We are a motley crew.

There is much that could be improved about the building, but it probably wont happen any time soon. There isn't the will nor the cash. Still, it's a clean place with lots of character and of course -- a terrific spot on the Warsaw landscape!

About this day: it's packed. I eat breakfast quickly, alone...


And then it begins. A run up to the New Town. My mom was looking forward to seeing a photo of this lovely street all lit up for the holidays. It's decorated, but the lights will not be turned on until next week. Poland does not rush the holiday season.


I meet up with Karolina, my incredible architect/designer and most importantly -- friend, for a quick cup of something warm to drink.


We catch up. But I tell her -- I cannot linger for long. I have a dinner to prepare.

Still,  before I settle in on fixing Mexican foods for my crowd, I take a neighborhood stroll.


This is Powisle. With its old and tested and its brand new.


I make my way to Rabarbar...


... and I sit down for a light lunch. Shakshuka with an egg and a glass of water with fruits.


I truly adore this tiny eatery. Their cookbooks (which I see in translation lining a shelf to the side) are my cookbooks. (Who knew that Ottolenghi could be had in Polish?!)

And now I really have to hurry! I mean, really. I am a speed demon. I can do it. I can!


And in the evening, the foods are ready, the friends come.

(We're all grandparents and so inevitably, we admire photos of the grandkids.)


(Margaritas in the making!)


I am enormously grateful to Chicago's chef Rick Bayless for providing me with the recipes for my Mexican feast. Tacos, both in the TexMex fashion and in something more authentically Mexican -- stuffed with shrimp and green mole and, too, with chicken and mole.

(We could not get the oven to work! No matter. I steamed the tortillas and microwaved the American style taco shells.)




Dessert is a potpourri of gifts, fruits, little nibbles.


I said to one of my sweet, sweet friends -- I can hardly believe I am here, with all of you.

It is at once fleeting and perfect. I cannot stay longer. I have my beloveds back home. But tonight -- it's really so very exquisite.