After the extraordinary inspirational performance of the Stockholm Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall last week, I thought I should have a look at some Nordic nosh. Maybe the secret of the joyful dancing conductor was in the food he ate. So on a tip I set off to the Essex Street Markets on the lower East Side and found not only salty licorish but a Swedish reggae queen.
The market has been around for 70 years and has evolved from being the heart of an immigrant community in the earlier days to now being the centre of a neighbourhood in transition. The lower east side has old Spanish bodegas next to modern art galleries, yoga schools next to fortune tellers, and the people on the street reflect the trendy and the traditional. Maybe that’s why the market is so interesting, it feels like there are fresh faces appearing without the whole market being stripped down and gentrified. You can still buy 10 varieties of yam, get a haircut for $7, find gooooooey cheese or buy one perfect cookie for $3 apiece.
The Nordic Preserves, Fish and Wildlife shop was full of Scandinavian treats, all pickled, salted, smoked or preserved in some special way. Maybe that was the conductor’s source of joy last week – it was a special night – much as was the promise from the Swedish woman behind the counter about her reggae debut in New York. I am still waiting for the invitation – it may not be in Carnegie Hall, but it will definitely be interesting! Watch this space….