In the late 70's I briefly lived on the south side of downtown Tucson, alone. Now, down on the corner? A little grocery run by elderly Chinese couple. They were always yelling at each other about something. In the other direction there was a liquor store that opened at 7:00 every morning. Friday & Saturday nights, there were always police helicopters flying over with spotlights, and the sound of sirens in the distance.
It was very lonely at times, but I was young and found the area colorful, exotic, stimulating... what it was, was a dangerous dump of a neighborhood.
Nowadays business regularly takes me to the Memphis version of my old Tucson area. All the businesses have bars on their windows, gang graffiti everywhere, and some of the store signs? Not only can't I tell what they say, I'm not even sure what language they're in.
Of course I react to the experience same as any sane middle aged man would... there's good eating around here somewhere!!!
Because that's what I forgot to mention about the old neighborhood. Crunchy little meat filled pastries, and candies so sweet they could cause diabetes over the phone!
And the potato chips!!! Cooked up while you waited and put in a little white bag so you could take it with you, strolling down the sidewalk on a glorious Saturday morning.
I would say it's impossible to have a care in the world while eating a bag of warm, freshly fried potato chips, but that's not true. Sometimes there are drunks sleeping on the sidewalk and you have to be careful not to step on them. If you step on a drunk, he wakes up and asks you for spare change.
But what I miss most about my old Tucson neighborhood is the Gyro place. So when I recently passed a sign advertising Gyros, I took note and went back the following weekend. That particular Gyro, it was just what I've always wanted, except not very much.
The people were nice; they tried. And I've never before got to watch the Al Jazierra channel while waiting for a food order. Turns out it's a lot like CNN, but the reporters' names are harder to pronounce. I don't wish to blame the management of Amana cafe, nor the folks at the Al Jazierra network, for my mild Gyro disappointment. The bread was good, but the filling? Too much vegetables, and it lacked that wonderful Gyro sauce.
That Gyro sauce, can't exaggerate about it. Kind of a mediterranean mayonnaise or something, with a hint of cucumber. So today I passed a different store and it sells Gyros. I'm going there this weekend in search of the perfect Gyro.
Can't miss the place really. It's right around the corner from a Buddhist temple, and right next to Sharona's Weaves & Nails.