Suzie was in Philadelphia and we visited the Italian Market, an area around 9th Street that is the oldest continuously operating outdoor fresh market in America. Philadelphia has an idiosyncratic foodie scene and the degree of specialization isn’t quite that of New York as you can get caviar and Mac n’ Cheese in the same store:
I felt peckish and purchased a 1/2 lb of dried peaches which I devoured before we stopped in to DiBruno’s, the most famous cheesemonger in Philadelphia. Our attendant, no monger, NO guide knew his cheeses but was skeptical of my dislike of goat cheese. He gave us an array of four and I was able to pick out the goaty infiltrator. For a moment, he gazed into my eyes and he saw me as the cheese journeyman I am.
DiBruno’s will give you a free sample of damn near anything and Suzie and I consumed about thirty 1/4 oz samples but there was one case where you didn’t get it free: Jabon Iberico. It’s a cured meat that clocks in at $129.99 a lb and is produced on a single Spanish farm by two brothers whose pigs eat nothing but acorns for the last six years of their lives. Each slice is like consuming a $2.00 bill. It wasn’t bad, but won’t make the charcuterie board at my next party any time soon.
After DiBruno’s, we visited the Magic Garden on South Street which is a single giant mural created by Isaiah Zanger over 14 years. It opened in 2008 and re-defines mixed media.
The Magic Garden seems like it’d be very dangerous after it rained but has a bunch of Easter Eggs in it like book passages and famous quotes spelled out in ceramic tiles in places one wouldn’t expect. Indoors, there was a children’s art area where a kid had indicated that he wanted his superpower to be to summon a herd of beavers.
On the way back the car, we found the Philadelphia exit to the Bat Cave.
Philadelphia is a place I want to walk around more, but right now don’t have the time. I’m slowly learning its neighborhoods and what I consider to be the corridors of interesting. There are streets you can walk down that have a flavor to them but others that due to serendipity and zoning are quite boring. They probably have their own secrets and their own stories but they are not as obvious or yielded as easily. I’ve skimmed the cream off and drank of Center City and the Old City. Now I need to get to know Boathouse Row, the revitalizing Fishtown, as well as some of the areas yet to be touched by revival. Unless I move there, I feel I’ll always be a guest rather than a native. Maybe that will change. There’s always something interesting there.
A final note: Never eat a half pound of dried fruit and then drink a lot later. Your colon will be replaced with a gatling gun. I have a more involved metaphor for this but few are as comfortable with the human colon as I.