Banana Nutrament

African Record Center and Veggie Castle

Back in April I wasn't feeling too well and took a day off work. Had a lingering cold I couldn't kick and knew of only one remedy. Well, the other cure would have been to steamblast my lungs in a Russian sauna, but that's not very nice to spread germs like that. More on my antidote in a minute, deciding that an afternoon in bed wouldn't do me much good, a day expedition had begun coalescing in my head.

I have a number of African ethnological recordings all with this gold embossed sticker stuck on the back that reads:

African Record Center
1194 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11225
(718) 493-4500

Having always been curious about the place, I wondered if it was still around. Googling revealed few traces, a brief mention by Jon Pareles and an encouraging Nostrand Avenue shopping guide from the folks at ARChive, though both were horribly out of date. It eventually dawned on me that I should just call the place, a disconnected number would tell me all I needed to know.

They answered, and they are very much still in business. And only a ten minute walk to Veggie Castle.

Cool shop, kind of pricey stock. Lots of dusty Calypso, Soca, and Highlife records, with all the requisite CDs and imported books. I've bought reggae on Nostrand Avenue before, but I must have walked right past their storefront without noticing it.

Emerged only with the below, unlike anything I can place, sounds like heavy drum work with slashes of electric instruments peppered about. Long tracks too, but to nothing like Afrobeat to my ear.

Kapingbdi - Our Heritage (Excerpt)

Started to get hungy, so I headed over to my eventual destination, thee Veggie Castle.

I'm no vegetarian, but this place has incredible food, amazing tofu simulacra of real BBQ. Have hit the place up maybe three times before. Yes, it's a retrofitted White Castle that must have gone out of business. Love that.

Don't want to be that guy who liveblogs every meal he eats, and it was so long ago I'm not sure exactly what was on the plate. Counterclockwise it looks like two types of tofu BBQ, salad, spinach, mac and cheese, and plantains.

But I really didn't make the trek to Veggie Castle to gorge myself. I went for the elixirs they create. Sort of like a health food juice store, but far more variety -- maybe 40, 45 ailments treated, depression, impotency, lack of blogging, etc.

Had to get their #1 for bad colds. It consists of lemon, orange, grapefruit, ginger, garlic, and a healthy dusting of cayenne pepper. The woman running the counter looked at me dead serious in the eye and requested that I do not attempt to drink it all at once. Had about half with the meal and half later that day at home, my blood boiled a bit and caught the sweats, but after a long nap felt pretty much back to my old self.