Suffering from a case of battle fatigue, I spent an afternoon buying food. The expedition wasn't solely for therapy. The homestead needed groceries.
I welcomed the shopping trip. Having spent virtually every waking hour reading about or listening to or watching reports on the Persian Gulf war, I was ready for some smaller news.
Indeed the dispatches from the Gulf were so important, they sometimes surfaced during routine shopping transactions. While buying potatoes at Mel's Produce in the Cross Street Market, for instance, the clerks and I talked more about Scuds than spuds.
Still, the outing offered a chance to add some variety to my news diet, to revel in some minor joys that help me keep my emotional balance when the world rocks.
I was delighted, for instance, when I learned I could not only get fresh cilantro, but also rapini -- the green that is a cross between broccoli and weeds -- at Cornucopia, a new produce stall at the Cross Street market.
Moreover, I got some whole-grain mustard seeds there. This is one of the ingredients in the secret sauce that Milton Inn chef Mark Henry puts on his sauteed soft crabs, making that dish one of the best things I have ever eaten. Henry's sauce is complicated and secret, but I figured that once I had the whole-grain mustard in my hands, I could attempt to replicate it.
In another part of the market, I spotted some cross sections of wild rockfish at Nick's Inner Harbour Seafood Co. I had already enjoyed fillets of the fish, but when I saw the "steak" cuts of the fish, I had a hunch they would be ideal to toss on a hot barbecue grill. The next night I played my hunch, the grilled rock was extraordinary.
At the Cross Street Cheese stand, I was introduced to a new cheese, Glenphilly, an English cheese-double Gloucester flavored with 8-year-old malt whiskey. A few nights later I had a slice of it, as a reward to myself for walking home from work.
I made a refueling stop at Sisson's brewpub. The pub is selling "growlers" of their homemade brews. A "growler" is a glass jug that holds about six bottles of beer.
A week earlier I had bought a glass jugful of Sisson's stout. I took ithome, emptied it, rinsed the jug out, and was now taking it back to the pub for a refill. This time I got the Stockade ale, for about $6 a jug.
Although the jug-lugging practice was news to me, it has been around for a while. In the old days it was called going to the corner for a "bucket of beer." Nowadays it is called recycling.
Next I made a stop at Trinacria Macaroni Works on Paca Street a few blocks north of the Lexington Market. The place hasn't made macaroni for years, but it still has remarkable prices on Italian foodstuffs. It was late in the day and as often happens on Saturday afternoons, the one-room store was packed. I took a number from the rack behind the door, and edged my way around the room, loading up on the usual items, olive oil, Italian tomatoes, green olives with garlic. I was fishing out a motherlode of frozen pizza dough from the freezer in the back, when I spotted some bottles of $3 pinot noir from Yugoslavia.
It was a gamble, but at that price, not much of one. And that night, after feasting on the grilled rockfish, the blanched, then sauteed, rapini, and the pinot noir, I was ready to face the world again.