My visit to Bonicelli Kitchen causes me to reflect on the past, present, and future of Central Avenue NE. I have had the pleasure of meeting folks who grew up in this area of Minneapolis from the 1920s through the 1950s. All expressed surprise at its transformation from a neighborhood of predominantly Eastern European immigrants to an area populated by diverse peoples, many coming from East Africa, Latin American, and the Middle East. This demographic transition is reflected in the thrilling variety of the street’s cuisine. Now is the time to visit and enjoy, as I detect that another round of change which is already in process, not to imply that this is bad. Buddhist teaching would confirm that change is the basic nature of reality.
But first, the food.
Those who are following this blog may grow weary of veggie burger pics, but here’s a dandy. Housed in a pretzel bun is a burger made with lots of healthy stuff that manages to taste really good. Served on the side are Asiago roasted potatoes, house-made pickles, and spicy mayo. Yup. I am happy. And my sense of well-being is enhanced by the excellent decision to order a Fair State Vienna Lager. Drinking at lunch is something I never do, but never say never. (Apologies for the cliche.) Perusing the menu I spy another 5 or 6 items that I would be happy to try in a future visit. On the right is a picture of the interior decor.
Back to the reflection on a neighborhood in the process of being reincarnated. The presence of an up-scale, chef-owned restaurant planted less than a year ago on the same block as Central Deli and Coffee (see my posting of a couple of weeks ago) is an example of the change coming to Central Avenue. As NE Minneapolis becomes a center for artists drawn here by studio and gallery space available at reasonable prices, people with money to spend will follow. The more affluent folks may see this as an area worth exploring, maybe even a place to call home. Real estate prices and rents rise, people of modest means move or are unable to buy, existing businesses may close or move. It is an evolutionary and inevitable process.
But for now, I joyfully eat and write.
My novel Borderland also continues to not only grow but to evolve. Those who write know what I mean. Characters take on a life of their own, and begin to have a hand in the plot. This past week I have been shaping and reshaping a scene in which Claire, the main character, is unwillingly drawn into a regular relationship with her neighbor Violet. In the process, Violet has to me revealed unforeseen complexities in her personality. Meanwhile, Claire is troubled by mysterious nighttime sounds on the other side of her bedroom wall.
Until next week.