Friday, July 20, 2012

What's In a Name?

Monday, July 16, 2012
I don’t think I need help finding topics to discuss here, at least as long as one of the Mitt Romneys is running for president of the United States. But, yesterday the New York Times threw me a softball. It published a short essay by Milla Goldenberg entitled "So Much in Common, in Name Only," describing meeting and dating a man also named Goldenberg. The attraction for her admittedly was the name. Of course, the hook is that my mother’s family is named Goldenberg, and you may have encountered my first cousins Michael, Anita, Lucille and/or Barbara (although she gave up Goldenberg a couple of marriages ago). The next generation has had a profusion of girls, so only brothers Joel and Craig Goldenberg, my cousins somewhat removed, are running around propagating the name. The irony of it all is captured by my invented adage for personal encounters: "If your name is Goldenberg, we’re not related."

While the details are now fuzzy over a century later, I understand that my mother’s family originally had a consonant-laden Eastern European name. When either my maternal grandfather came over from Poland in 1905, or my maternal grandmother, in 1909, my maternal grandmother’s younger sister, already living in New York for several years, decided to Americanize their name to Goldenberg, a name that apparently just missed appearing on the bottom of the Declaration of Independence. So, Joseph and Esther Malka Goldenberg, living first on the lower East Side and then Brooklyn, had six children and lived long enough, in Joseph’s case, to see grandchildren born, and great-grandchildren in Esther Malka’s case. Unfortunately, the original family name has been long lost. Even when some of my older maternal relatives were still alive (many of those Goldenbergs had long life-spans), no one remembered the name of that branch of the family tree. So, sorry Milla Goldenberg, the writer; Claude Goldenberg, the Stanford University professor of education; Mark Goldenberg, the acoustic guitarist; Stuart L. Goldenberg, the Minneapolis personal injury lawyer; Natasha Goldenberg, the Russian fashion designer; Suzanne Goldenberg, the US environmental reporter for the Guardian (UK); Billy Goldenberg, the composer of movie and television music; and sadly, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, but we’re not related.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I was called upon to work in a courtroom at 71 Thomas Street today, so I had occasion to have lunch with Super Clerk Marty. Appropriately, we went to Super Linda - Latin Grill, 109 West Broadway, a new place located where Delphi Restaurant operated for many years. When I started working at 71 Thomas Street in 2002, Delphi was the first place I had lunch, since it was one block away, reasonably priced and served Greek food, a desirable choice. However, from the first, I found that Delphi did not bother to season food. Salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, or other stuff that you might cook with to spice up a dish seemed to be absent from its kitchen. I returned several times, hoping that my initial impression was atypical, but the bland followed the bland, and I skipped Delphi for some years until it closed.

Super Linda was pleasantly airconditioned on an afternoon that reached 94° and the simple lunch menu had decent choices. Marty ordered the breakfast burrito ($9), chorizo sausage, scrambled eggs, peppers, wrapped in a burrito. I had fish tacos ($12), three crooked cigar pieces of fried fish lying on soft tortillas, with a cup of black beans and a mound of rice on the side. The dish was mildly, but distinctively, seasoned. The only glitch in the meal came at the end, when we were charged $2.50 cups of coffee, instead of the $2 on the menu, and then charged for the refills, a total of 10 bucks. The lovely manager apologized for the error in judgment and fact, and eliminated all trace of coffee from our bill.

Speaking of spices, fried foods and such, I had an appointment with Dr. Morris Traube, Very Big Gastroenterologist, at the end of the day. Dr. Traube, who has treated me in the past, has a law degree and is an Orthodox rabbi as well, you may recall. After initial greetings, I asked Dr. Traube if he has considered becoming a veterinarian too. This led us to search our memories fruitlessly for any Orthodox Jewish veterinarians. Dr. Traube suggested that there are some doctrinal barriers to an Orthodox Jew becoming a veterinarian, especially when it came to sterilizing or neutering animals. See, "in Jewish law it is prohibited to surgically, radio-therapeutically, physically or medically impair the reproductive organs of any living creature, male or female; human, animal, fowl or beast." This should reassure some Jewish husbands.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012
At last, a new Chinese restaurant. Prosperity Dumpling, 46 Eldridge Street, is tiny. A space in front holds five stools against two narrow ledges while folks stand around waiting for their orders to take out. The next 15 feet are crowded with five people preparing and cooking. The busyness results from the favorable price/performance ratio that Prosperity delivers. I had five fried pork and chive dumplings ($1), a sesame pancake with roasted beef ($1.75) and a sesame pancake with roasted chicken ($1.75), all washed down with a Diet Coke. The sesame pancakes are not pancakes, but strongly resembling a wedge of sesame-encrusted focaccia, split and filled. Each wedge was about 75% of the size of a pizza slice. There was shredded carrots and parsley, with a dash of Vietnamese sweet and tangy sauce, in addition to the beef and chicken. Very tasty, very filling. However, the narrow ledge affords no room to do a crossword puzzle.

Allen West is a black Republican Congressman from Florida, a rare phenomenon. Further distinguishing him is a penchant for bold rhetoric, such as, "I believe there is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party [in Congress] that are members of the Communist Party." So far, the record contains no evidence to support West’s claim, but I believe that there is proof that there is at least one psychotic in the House of Representatives.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Allan Shankar of Orange County is an Orthodox vet. I discovered that many years ago when I asked him why the practice was closed, at that time, on Saturday. He told me he made aliyah but Israel didn't seem to need vets. A couple of years after we met I was in synagogue when his entire family walked there in Middletown, NY (more than ten miles I think) to celebrate one of his three daughters going to Israel for a gap year. Good vet, nice person.