Turmeric ain’t vanilla and other thoughts on Brooklyn

I have been to Brooklyn.

I got to travel up there for some training with my day job. Now I’ve been to New York many times, and I love every little bite of the Big Apple I get, but I’d never had the opportunity to venture across the bridge into Brooklyn. On this trip, though, it was all Brooklyn all the time.

Here are some things I learned about New York’s most populous, and seemingly most popular, borough:

  • Brooklyn is lovely. It really is. But I swear on all the corned beef at Katz’s Deli, I was the only person in Brooklyn over 30. I take that back — I did see one really old man creeping down the sidewalk while we were on a break, but I feel pretty confident that either (a) he was lost or (b) he’d been there since Brooklyn was a pup (it was first settled in 1634).
  • You can’t swing a dead cat in Brooklyn without hitting a piece of avocado toast. Brooklyn is very trendy. And very cool. And the very definition of all that is hipster.
  • I’m not cool enough for Brooklyn.
  • If you go to the coffee shop in Brooklyn, don’t ask for a vanilla latte. They will look at you like you ordered a cat turd latte. “We don’t have vanilla,” they will spit at you as they roll their eyes and look disgusted under their floppy beanies. But they will, in an effort to accommodate an apparently lost and un-hip Southerner, offer to put turmeric in your latte.
  • Turmeric ain’t the same as vanilla.
  • But despite the coffee conundrum, the food is good. Real good. From a Turkish lunch catered by Deniz Restaurant to sausages and sauerkraut at Black Forest, duck cassoulet at Bacchus Bistro to chicken liver mousse at Vinegar Hill House, every bite of food I ate was better than the last. That’s why I think that …
  • It must be all the walking that keeps Brooklynites (Brookliners ?) skinny, which is probably why they can be so fashionable all the time, which leads me to the fact that …
  • I packed what I thought were some of my coolest duds in my never-ending crusade to represent the South as evolved and current. My clothes are not Brooklyn cool. If ever there was a time when I felt every bit of my nearly 50 years, felt like a true fashion fiasco, felt like everyone’s Mamaw in a polyester pants suit, it was in Brooklyn.
  • I love walking in a city, even when it is below freezing and I can’t feel my toes inside my coolest booties and my eyes are watering and my nose is running. There’s a certain energy and excitement you feel just by being there that gives you the strength to walk 10 miles in a day when at home you’re loathe to walk two blocks.
  • The nighttime view of Manhattan from across the river is truly breathtaking. Do what your Mama always told you not to and walk down dark allies to stand in a deserted park in the middle of the night. It’s worth it.

Brooklyn, I’ll most definitely be back, even if you do put turmeric in your coffee.