April 18, 2005

walking down devon

So on Sunday to while away my day I took a walk down Devon. All of Devon, from Sheridan to Kedzie, which looks on the map to be about 3 miles. The first part is boring, but once you cross Damen it starts to get interesting until it crescendoes in a mile-long stretch of Indo-Pak chaos: restaurants, bakeries, sari shops, jewelers, electronics hawkers, the works. I walked by one storefront marked "sweets and snacks" and got about another block down the street before I realized that it had been jammed to the rafters with people, so I went back and went in. It's called Tahoora Sweets & Bakery, and I got a boxful of sticky Indian desserts, including some egg-shaped things stuffed with cream and rolled in coconut, a shredded-carrot cake, a giant pistachio-topped fried ball, and one of those greasy-sticky mini-funnel-cake things I don't know the name of. I also got something called halwa puri, which I saw on pretty much every table in the place. It was a sectioned tray of spiced potato, spiced chickpeas, pickle, raita, some safety-orange stuff that seems to be the halwa (sort of a lightly-sweet relative of cream of wheat, with raisins and almonds, served warm), and 3 big puffy greasy puris. I got mine to go in plastic tubs, because there wasn't a free table in the place, and I was the only gringo, and it didn't seem fair for me to take up a whole booth for myself, and besides I was hungry and didn't want to wait. So I ate on a bench at a bus stop, scooping up potato & pickle in greasy bits of puri and generally snarfing away. I got about halfway through and was full -- not bad for $3.50. I forgot to get a napkin so I just rubbed all that grease into my cuticles (which were intensely grateful and looked better that day than they have in months) and went merrily along. It was all so good, and it held me through the whole long-ass walk, and the latter half made an entirely satisfying lunch, as you can see in the picture.

I also stopped at a place called Ambala that sells canisters of salty snack mixes; I had one at H's that was great, and I tried to get one for myself, but I think I got one slightly different, so that will be fun too. It has shards of potato chips, nuts, dried fruit, spices, yum yum. This place is much more elegant and high-end inside, and has a whole range of sweets. I didn't buy any because I'd already gotten a boxful elsewhere, but the shopgirl offered me a taste of their mini-funnel-cake treat, which was not glowing-orange and was the only one of these I've ever had that didn't taste like the frying oil was stale. It was fantastic, crispy and sweet and syrupy without being cloying, so i will be going back there for my next batch of sweets.

Then the street morphs into a Muslim section, and then stops briefly in Central Asia (one Turkish shop and Argo Georgian bakery). I got some Turkish sheep's milk feta and oil-cured olives, and a big yeasty round loaf at the bakery, and cilantro and dill at the produce market next door, so I can have a Baku-style breakfast tomorrow, yum. I stopped at a dollar store and bought the most hilarious shower curtain ever (i'm staying in a totally empty apartment, you will recall). This thing is like tissue paper, and the printing doesn't line up properly -- whaddaya want for $1.19? And then I trucked on through the Hasidic neighborhood, spying Hashalom, reputedly the only Israeli felafel in the city, but I was still full so I'll have to try it later. And then at Kedzie I went over the river, but saw only Home Depot and strip-mall hell, so I turned around and caught the bus back east. There's a bunch of stuff that needs more time, not least of these being an African restaurant called Toham (at Newgard & Devon) that claims to have smoked goat, so I will be heading back sometime soon.

Posted by foodnerd at April 18, 2005 01:44 PM
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