One of the most outlandish proud—and just plain big–signs in all the five boroughs belongs to Eagle Provisions of the South Slope, "Manufacturer of the World's Finest Kielbasy and Polish Provisions." The World's finest. That means every better than the stuff back in old Poland even.
It's been a goal for some time to try that finest of all Kielbasy, and recently I finally did. I walked through the vainglorious storefront, past the many potted plants at the front, through an aisle lined with obscure Polish imports, to the deli counter at the back, where breaded chicken cutlets, homemade potato pancakes and many sorts of meats are available, and told the unsmiling counter woman "One pound of Kielbasy." At a few bucks a pound, how could I lose?
Is it the world's best? Impossible to say. But it's damn good and it went quick. The store (which honors not America's Eagle, but Poland's) has been around since the 1930s. People go there for the homemade stuff and the massive domestic and imported beer selection. They don't go for the sad produce section, the high prices and the borderline rude service. This last part doesn't bother me that much. Sorry to traffic in national stereotypes, but, after spending many years in the City, and patronized every sort of ethnic establishment, one thing I've come not to expect from Polish establishments is charm and friendliness. Might as well expect a cat to pitch in with the housework.