Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Vanishing Korean Markets of the Upper West Side

I needed onions today. Zabar's onions did not look so good. Fairway was closed for some emergency (I am not kidding about this). Westside Markets would have been great, but I forgot about it as I walked up Amsterdam Avenue. The market near my house closed several months ago, replaced by a Best Buy Phone and Uniqlo, which I am probably spelling wrong. I do not need another phone and I believe I would have to sew together two pairs of pants from Uni-whatever to even fit in them. But I really wanted fresh onions and had already been to Zabar's and Ottomanelli's. Aha, I thought, I will go to the market on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st Streets, next to McAleer's. You know, the one with the yellow sign. But it was closed. Out of business. Empty. Kaput. Exhausted, I am currently making do with a yellow onion I had in the fridge.

I am keenly aware of rising real estate prices in New York, and of the impact of Fresh Direct, etc. on small, low margin food shops. Having said that, one of the nicest things about living on the Upper West Side has always been ready access to mildly overpriced fresh fruits and vegetables 24/7. The ready availability of food allowed me to run out in case I forgot something or to spontaneously decide I wanted to cook something. Now, running out for last minute ingredients has become a chore, but stocking up on large quantities of food seems wasteful, especially if the food is not used and it goes bad. Everyone has their own feelings on why the mallification of the Upper West Side is a problem, and this one is mine.


Robin said...

I wholeheartedly agree! i think we need a petition drive to make sure there is at least one market every two blocks. (But the disappearing market phenomenon does seem to be most prevalent on the lower upper west side. in the reaches near 96th street, there are still several korean grocers, plus lots of street carts. The fancier ones even have heaters.)

Ira.B said...

Unfortunately, with the opening of the Lyric, etc. you to will face a korean-free future. also, there is rumor of whole foods on 96th and columbus