I bought a new pair of jeans a few months ago at an Esprit outlet, and I thought I’d bought some good sh*t. The jeans are comfortable, my ass looks relatively non-terrible and somewhat non-flabby in them, and I only spent $15. Not bad, right?
Trouble is, the jeans have one weird flaw. When you unzip the fly, the word BEAT appears in large print. Are these instructions of some sort? If so, is Esprit telling me to inflict pain or pleasure? Or did they mean to write EAT, and just made a typo? And why can’t they keep their instructions away from my junk? I’m confused.
That has absolutely nothing to do with Guyanese food. Sorry, I just had to get it off my chest. Every time I pee, I feel slightly more confused by my pants.
In other news, my friend Rimma and I spent more than an hour walking around Ozone Park, at the very end of the A train in Queens, trying to select one of the neighborhood’s 15 or so Guyanese eateries. We actually chose Anil’s Roti Shop out of a little bit of (non-pants-related) confusion: Rimma saw the sign, exclaimed “I love roti!”, and ran over to the store window, thinking that she’d stumbled upon an Indian bakery.
Anil’s Roti Shop wasn’t quite what she had in mind: the owners are indeed of Indian descent, but are more recently from Guyana and Trinidad. And poor Rimma wasn’t going to find the flat, unleavened, whole wheat roti served in Indian restaurants: Caribbean-style roti is soft and moist, often featuring flaky layers of dough stuffed with ground chickpeas. Caribbean roti and curry are clearly descended from Indian food, but the Caribbean varieties are distinct from the stuff served in South Asian eateries.
Not that we’re complaining or anything. Anil’s is cheap as hell, and the food is amazing. Rimma ordered a plate of yellow goat curry with roti for a paltry $6. (And when I say “yellow goat curry”, I mean that the curry sauce is yellow, not the goat itself. I don’t think that yellow goat meat would be all that good, especially if it’s a shiny iridescent yellow. Goat meat is supposed to be brown. Or slightly pink. Yellow meat? Bad sign. Yellow curry? Perfectly OK.) I went for geera chicken with a side of stewed spinach and roti (also $6). Both of our meals came with a small side of potatoes stewed in yet another yellow curry sauce.
I’ll admit that both of our dishes contained more sauce than meat, but we really didn’t give a rat’s ass, since our bits of meat and bone were swimming in absolutely delicious sauces. The geera chicken was particularly impressive, drenched in a pungent oil infused with massive quantities of black pepper and ground cumin seeds. Fresh, flaky, chickpea-stuffed Guyanese roti dipped in the sauce was one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten lately. I crunched on a few bones in the process, but I can live with that.
Anil’s also has its own little bakery, and we couldn’t resist trying a powdery little treat that looked like fudge but tasted like dulce de leche or an unusually dark caramel; we also munched on an orange spiral that reminded me of a crispy, syrup-drenched funnel cake. We weren’t really into the desserts, but that roti and goat curry and geera chicken could easily be habit-forming… if only Ozone Park were a little bit closer to home.
Anil’s Roti Shop
12501 Liberty Ave., Queens
Subway: Lefferts Ave. (A train)