Thursday, April 24, 2014

the serendipitous bagel

I have this friend named Suzie that I get together with every now and again for lunch. We both work downtown-ish and have had the pleasure of eating at many awesome restaurants. Yesterday we met up at this place called Kenny & Zuke's over on 10th and Stark. If you haven't been there and are visiting downtown Portland, I implore you to check it out. They are the Jewish deli that you've been searching for! Fresh, hand-made boiled bagels daily, pastrami, pickles, noodle kugel, latkes, any kind of sandwich you can think of and more!

We have eaten at Kenny & Zuke's before but not in a long time; this place is known for it's really good food, especially their house-made pastrami. I'm trying to eat less processed food (like bread) so I got a giant salad laced with their pastrami goodness. Mmmmm. It's not that I have anything against bread but I can easily eat a ton of it and am just trying to eat in moderation. My friend Suzie ordered a bagel with lox and capers--her dish looked just as great as mine!

While we were eating, we noticed a woman with a fancy camera in the restaurant. She got a bagel with some sort of schmear on it, and took it over to the table behind us and began to photograph it. I think judging by the size of her camera she wasn't instagramming this--these seemed like professional photos. Suzie and continued our conversation for a while when the photographer approached us with the bagel on a plate. She asked if either of us would like the bagel. "it's perfectly fine," she added, as if she might have secretly licked it. "uhhh no thanks, I have a ton of food here," I replied. Suzie explained that she is eating a bagel and doesn't want a second. (I thought I read somewhere that eating a bagel is equal to eating 5 slices of bread. Can you believe that? I can. and I can totally eat 5 slices of bread. Not that wonder bread embalming fluid shit, but like tasty Grand Central Como bread or maybe their olive rosemary. On a somewhat unrelated side note--I live just a few blocks from a Grand Central Bakery, which is both a blessing and a curse. If the wind blows in the right direction the scent of fresh baked bread wafts into my apartment).

Back to the bagel--my friend Suzie asked if the photographer could just give it to a homeless person, like the guy out in front of the deli. "Him?" the photographer sneered and replied with disdain. "He's been scamming people there all day for drug money, I'm not giving it to him." Okay. My social anxiety kicked in right about now so I explained I work in social services and offered to take the bagel to give it to someone in our lobby. I'm sure the people I know don't meet her definition of bagel worthiness but hey, I'm trying to be less judgmental and more barrier free. Our waitress got me a small bag for the bagel and after we finished eating, I left with half of my uneaten pastrami sandwich and the donated bagel.

It's been raining a lot lately, which isn't unusual for where we are living or the time of year. It's interesting in spring that heavy rain and hail showers move through our region. If you time it right, you can manage to move between showers and stay dry going to from appointment to appointment. Some people, especially the people I'm working with don't have the luxury of an indoor job (any job) or an apartment so they spend most of spring pretty wet and cold.

When I got back to the office, I asked our receptionist if she would hang onto the bagel and give it to someone that would want it. I disclaimed that it's a Nova Lox schmear (not everyone likes that flavor) and she enthusiastically agreed to give it to someone in need. I went back to my desk and forgot about the bagel for the next couple of hours.

When it was almost near time for me to leave, I went back through the lobby when the receptionist caught me. "You know who got that bagel? Johann* and he really enjoyed it. He said thank you!"

Johann is homeless and has been working with us to get into a safe, dry place. He has some health concerns and experiences food insecurity. I know Nova Lox and a bagel isn't the most nutritious thing to eat, but it's certainly not top ramen or 7-11 hot case crap. We also have coffee in our lobby so hopefully Johann was able to relax for a few minutes, dry off and enjoy the bagel with a hot cup of coffee.

*On the off chance that someone I know is actually reading these posts, the names and some of the details have been changed to protect confidentiality.

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