Clueless BWI search doesn't faze Johnny U.

This Just In...

November 12, 2001|By Dan Rodricks

I HAVEN'T heard anyone complain about increased security at BWI, and what I have here isn't a complaint so much as a suggestion that in addition to their beefed-up training and better pay and benefits, airport security personnel should get a little indoctrination in Beloved Local Legends.

Not that BLL's are above scrutiny. But I can't say I feel any safer having heard that Johnny Unitas got the metal-detector wand treatment at BWI recently by a security guard who seemed clueless as to whom it was he was scanning.(Now Unitas must know what it's like to be Trent Dilfer. I guess there just haven't been enough sideline shots of No. 19 during Ravens telecasts. Somebody memo Al, Dan and Dennis on this.)

Ol' Golden Arm isn't griping, however. That's not his style. Besides, he's used to the wand. He got both the knees replaced about nine years ago and they've been known to set off metal detectors in a few airports.

"That's fine," Unitas says he tells security officers, "go ahead and check."

That's right. Everyone has to do their part to make the nation safe again. Unitas We Stand.

Johnny U. might not be complaining, but a mention in last Monday's column of handbag inspections at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall provoked TJI reader Victoria Bradley to decry it as inequitable, misdirected and ineffective.

"I don't really have a problem with the handbag searches," she e-mailed, "but how often do you hear of just women going berserk and pulling guns, knives and bombs out of their handbags at public events?"

Off the top of my head? Not since Squeaky Fromme.

"Seems to me that most of the terrorists these days are men!" V.B. adds. "Since the Meyerhoff has no metal detectors or scanning devices, a would-be terrorist just needs to carry dangerous items on his or her person!"

Decent point, V.B., but don't feel so set upon. What they're really looking for in those handbags are cough drops and hard candy wrapped in crinkly cellophane. Opened in the hall during a performance, they can ruin a decent adagio.

A market of delights

I visited Han Ah Reum for the first time Friday night and made a return trip Saturday morning just so my daughter could see the big, dried cuttlefish.

I had no intention of cooking or eating the cuttlefish - another day maybe, when I had time to think the whole thing through - but I wanted my daughter to see its diving-bell head and its long tentacles, all dried and packaged like a tiny Halloween costume.

My daughter pronounced it "cool."

She and I uttered other such declarations in the bright, busy and mesmerizing atmosphere of this new Asian supermarket in Catonsville, and we literally danced down the aisles - OK, it was more like "skipped-funky behind the shopping cart" - to the beat of Korean disco music.

Just beyond a high levee of bags of rice, we found a sea of unusual greens, all of them looking astonishingly fresh and well trimmed, being picked over and passionately discussed by numerous shoppers. I bought two big bunches of spinach and a heavy knot of Japanese broccoli.

I also selected, at 69 cents a pound, four of the largest yellow pears I'd ever seen, suspecting that their size would diminish their flavor. They proved, however, to be sweet as honey.

I snooped around for ready-to-eat goods and settled on a short stack of Japanese fish cakes and two containers of store-made kimchi, one composed of cucumbers, the other of scallions.

We inspected the frozen foods and found items that, outside of Baltimore's public markets, we've seldom seen for sale: Packages of quail and rabbit, pigs' feet, beef feet and frogs' legs.

Our best find in the frozen food cases were vegetable and leek dumplings - 19-ounce bags for $1.69 each. Later, at home, I steamed them and the family gave a good-to-very-good rating, the leek variety preferred.

There were icy bins of squid, smelt, cod, white bass, shrimp with heads and pollack without bodies. There was a long shelf laden with salmon, flounder and conch. (I bought a salmon filet for $5.75 and cooked it in a teriyaki sauce.)

I treated my daughter to a 53-ounce jug of what seems to be her new favorite treat - miniature jellied fruit in thimble-sized plastic containers. The jug cost $3.99.

There were dozens of things that caught my daughter's eye at Han Ah Reum, but one of lasting impression: The display of black wigs behind the hair-and-beauty counter.

That was just beyond the display of rice steamers and floor mats and Korean videos, and that was one aisle removed from a high bank of exotic canned goods, a whole river of fresh Asian noodles and a little island of vacuum-packed seaweed.

It's a great country we have here.

Charm City or Cute City?

TJI reader Mat Lam had one of those experiences a Baltimorean cherishes - when friends visit this city for the first time and like what they see. Lam's friend, a Los Angelena (Los Angeleno, feminine form), came to B-town recently and "marveled at everything we all take for granted here" as Lam showed her around.

"She laughed when I cussed while in traffic on the JFX, and said, `If you people think this is traffic, wait till you see it out there.' She almost died while driving through Mayor O'Malley's neighborhood and spotted the sign that said, `Beverly Hills.'

"She pointed out little things - how cheap it is to feed a parking meter in Baynesville, the amount of barbershops on Harford Road, how so many houses are made of brick, how South Baltimore seems to have a sports bar or tavern on every corner, the 1 o'clock emergency whistle on Mondays, how all the grocery stores carry scrapple, how we can drink water directly out of our spigots, how relatively reasonable the price of gasoline is, how many snowball stands there are, and how people don't ever blow their car horns here. ... It's got to be the first time I ever heard anyone call Baltimore `cute.'"

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