Friday, December 23, 2016

A taste of heaven




     I visited a slice of heaven and a glimpse into hell Thursday, all within the span of a couple hours.
     Heaven might be overstating the case. But it was very white, and lovely. Which came as I surprise, because I was driving east along Lawrence Avenue, one of the more unlovely streets in Chicago. It was getting on 9 a.m., I had not had my coffee, and I was looking for a place, anyplace, to get a cup before I arrived at my destination. I pulled over at a Greek bakery, Hella's Pastry Shop, 2627 W. Lawrence -- only now, as I type it, does the name seem ironic.
    "Do you have coffee?" I asked, and as Gus, who has worked there 30 years, poured it, I looked around. Usually a bakery has a wide variety of offerings, but this place had one, predominantly. Tray after tray of kourabies—to use the bakery's spelling—a Greek Christmas cookie, filling the glass case, and the wall behind the counter. The effect was surreal, cinematic, charming. 
    I asked about the cookies, of course, and Gus suggested a dozen at $9.50. I already had breakfast, so compromised with a half dozen.  Gus gave me a complimentary honey cookie, wrapped in a napkin, and I ate that on the spot. It was very good, and I mentioned another Greek restaurateur of my acquaintance. His honey cookies ... Gus knew him, and he and I exchanged a knowing, sorrowful glance. Yes, well, baking is an art, is it not? And art, by definition, is not open to all, despite effort and intention.
      The bakery, he said, has been there for 50 years. These things take time to perfect. There was a sign in the window I admired on my way out. "All nicely wrapped." That was very sweet, in a way as sweet as the cookies. 
     The kourabies were very powdery -- not the best cookie to eat sitting in your car, but I managed. They were worth the care needed to eat them and the clean-up required, some diligent brushing and flicking. These crescents can be made with almond, or walnut, but these seemed a straight shortbread. I limited myself to two, saving the rest for the family, though that took an application of will as the day progressed. 
    Leading us to hell. As for hell, well, that's more complicated, as hell tends to be. You'll have to read my column on Monday. There too, I might be overstating the case, but again, only slightly.


     

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I grew up with those things, being Greek, but I never really liked them. Too dry and too intensely sweet. Plus God forbid you should inhale while biting into them; you'd choke from the powdered sugar.

    Bitter Scribe

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think "Hellas" just means Greece, which economically might translate to Hell after all, if what they used to say about it remains true. Can hardly wait until Monday to find out what other Hell Neil encountered.

    The spelling of "occations" may have been payback for hearing non-Greeks constantly refer to "the hoi polloi."

    john

    ReplyDelete
  4. An illustration of why it be not always meet to beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

    Tom Evans

    ReplyDelete
  5. Trying to figure out where Neil was going on Lawrence Avenue where his experiences turned out to be hellish rather than hellenic. Probably the homeless shelter between Broadway and Sheridan that I think is closing down. If there's drink involved, Dante's inferno has nothing on Uptown misery.

    But I'll wait.

    john

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks as though the shelter will remain open, at least for awhile.

      http://wgntv.com/2016/12/23/last-minute-deal-keeps-chicago-homeless-shelter-open/

      SandyK

      Delete
  6. From the picture he's going to a dispute over the manger. To modern day international-liberalism any display of the manger that can be seen 10,000 yards from a public road must be hounded down as some alt right Christian Supremacist conspiracy to start concentration camps. Unless of course it's covered in dog shit then it's proud art to be displayed on Michigan Avenue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Or maybe it's Christmas so I put a photo of a manger, period. Mr. Franklin's hallucinatory tirade shows the key role that self-pity plays in the mindset of the far right wingnut. He's so hot to be offended, that he can't even wait for the offense to happen -- he just imagines what some cliche libtard of his fever dreams would say -- not me, God knows, whose never complained about a creche in my life -- then free-associates about it. Such readers are not welcome here, Mr. Franklin.

      Delete
  7. Looks like you jumped to conclusions on the manger scene, Mr.Franklin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Possibly, but we'll have to wait until Monday to find out. Seems to have worked himself into a froth about it, though.

      Delete
  8. Seems as though no " close to hell" arrived today.

    ReplyDelete