28 July 2007

A Perfect Combo

A dip in the Red Hook community pool, and then a meal courtesy of the Red Hook Park food vendors. This has to be one of the most blissfully perfect and unassailably authentic Saturday set-ups New York City has to offer. It's just ur-Gotham.

First of all, the 1930s-era, WPA pool is free to all comers and kept in fantastic condition. The rule-heavy administration and the whistle-happy lifeguards put a bit of a damper on things, true. On the other hand, they keep the experience exquisitely elemental. No pool toys, no flotation devices, no boom-boxes, no food. Just you, your swimsuit and the water.

After you've had you fill of watery fun, the Red Hook vendors are just a kitty-corner away. I tried the Carello Guatemalan stand for the first time and, damn, if they didn't zoom straight to the number one spot as my favorite vendor. The chili relleno taco and fried, cylindrical chicken tacos are out of this world.

I couldn't find ballfield boss Cesar Fuentes anywhere. I asked a few vendors if there was any new news about the loathsome Parks Commissioner's attempt to push the mom-and-pop shops out of the park and yield up the concessions to open bidding, but could find out nothing.

It's been somewhat disappointing that way the press, on the web and off, has rather dropped this story after beating the drum so hard there for a while. Let's not give up on these guys! I mean, I'm sorry, but that chile relleno taco was just too good. And I don't want to have to settle for an Italian sausage or a Krispy Kreme after my pool time.

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