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The Idea

May 25, 2006

I am a tiny bit tired of New York, maybe a little bit ready to move out of the city. But it isn’t time to move out yet. New York is big and deserves credit for lots of different kinds of neighborhoods, so why not seek a new one out? My strapping yet civilized boyfriend, M, felt much the same way. When it recently came time for us to join households, we decided to move to a new neighborhood in Brooklyn, one with bigger houses, lower rents, swaying trees, stay-at-home dads.

Ditmas Park is a turn of the century “suburb” of New York within the city itself. It’s a place with enormous trees and 11 bedroom Victorian houses, some of which have turrets. It’s said that wealthy New Yorkers retreated here to escape cholera here during the summers, though the person I hear saying that most is me, and I can’t remember quite where I heard it.

We’re very much middle-class Brooklynites who are retreating here to escape escalating rents. We were seriously considering $2400 apartments before we settled on this place, but this far out in South Brooklyn hasn’t reached the frenzied pace that our last neighborhoods have. In fact, we chose a place where the deposit for our apartment was exactly $100.

As we searched for a new neighborhood, I knew that I’d wanted to live somewhere superlative in at least one way–and this certainly fit into that category. Super big houses. On the other side of a ridge that precludes us from even seeing Manhattan. Very low rent on a 100plus year old house, but a lot of work that we’d have to do ourselves.

Lest you think we’ve moved to either Chappaqua or Staten Island, Ditmas Park also claims a a growing gay population and an elementary school where 52 languages are spoken. In other words, it’s diverse. Afghanis, Mexicans, fill in the blank, I guarantee that there are some of them here. Would you like to see someone in a chador? Come on over! I guarantee you a good parking spot. Except, please pack a lunch, and pack one for us, too:

None of these interesting people seem to be cooking too much delicious food for us to eat.

There aren’t too many restaurants, or at least, the kinds of restaurants that we think of when we think of such. Ditmas residents are said to have pooled together to lure another restaurant to the neighborhood, and it’s under construction right now: it will be exactly the second gentrified restaurant in the neighborhood–but even the ethnic places don’t seem to be abounding on the main drag of the neighborhood where we live.

Since we’ve decided to settle in a bit more than usual, we thought that was okay. What we *didn’t* realize was that our kitchen in our fixer-upper rental would need to be wholly remodelled and that the only contractor we could afford would take a long vacation in Guyana before he could help us. We moved in a month ago, and in that time we’ve been limited to things that either cross the threshold already warm or are simply toasted.

So welcome to Church Avenue Chomp. This is where we hope to explore and report upon what Church Avenue has to offer. Church Avenue is a commercial strip’s several blocks to the north: a bustling bazaar of things that we might like to eat. It’s a utopia of lower-middle class ethnic groups in Brooklyn. Caribbean? Polish, Russian, Dominican, these are the things we are hoping for. More later!

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