Thursday, September 10, 2015

What's a nice farmers market like you doing in a place like this?

The farmers market had some good stuff. 

Wonderful peaches, both yellow and white. Nectarines. Concord grapes. Apples. Tomatoes. Berries.

The vendors spoke Russian, not that surprising, given that Brighton Beach, New York's most Russian neighborhood, was only about a mile away. But the market's wares were less noteworthy than its location: near the boardwalk of Coney Island, an area more celebrated for freaks than leeks.

(And certainly the food item most emblematic of Coney Island - especially because Coney Island Whitefish isn't actually a food item - is a Nathan's Famous hot dog, still going strong after nearly 100 years.)

I came to Coney Island to watch Minor League baseball: the Brooklyn Cyclones, an affiliate of the NY Mets, were battling their cross-Narrows rivals, the Staten Island Yankees. Wholesome, carefully arranged produce was just about the last thing I expected to encounter in front of the Cyclones' MCU Stadium.

Despite the typical stadium rules against bringing in food, the guard let me bring in my newly purchased produce. "We say no snacks, but I gotta admit you're not going to find fruit in there," he said, jerking a thumb toward the concession stands. Hot dogs and fries were as popular inside the stadium as they were just outside of it.
After the Cyclones lost to the Staten Island Yankees, we took in some of Coney Island's other attractions.

When I last went on the Cyclone. I felt lucky to have my teeth still in my head at the ride's end. But this old-school (circa 1927) rollercoaster has been joined by newer rides like the Thunderbolt, Sling ShotZenobie, and Soarin' Eagle, variations on the theme of dropping you from a high point really fast and probably shaking you upside down a couple of times for good measure. While we were watching the game we could see the Thunderbolt car making its way up on the track (and if you go to the game picture above, you can see the ant-like car beginning its vertical path upwards in the upper right-hand corner; the track's super-sharp descent immediately follows). More tellingly, we could follow its path by the passengers' screams, which we had no trouble hearing over the din of the game. (To get a sense of these rides, just click on the respective link for a virtual front row seat on each ride.) 

There were no shortage of screams as we strolled around the park, contemplating the long lines and dithering about whether to join them (maybe next time). I was impressed by the sighting of a White Castle tucked in among the rides. Who thought that the experience of being catapulted 150 feet in the air at 90 miles/hour, then twisted into a couple of somersaults, would be enhanced by a greasy burger? 

But to be fair even the lovely farmers market peaches wouldn't be very appealing then either. 


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