Wilmington

I’ve noticed that people from around here don’t talk about going to see Delaware. Many places are mentioned, but Delaware is not. So we went to see Delaware. It isn’t far and nobody ever talks about going to check out Delaware.

If you pay attention to your junk mail you may have noticed how many financial things come from Wilmington, DE. Downtown Wilmington is just one large bank building after the other: Chase, PNC, Citizens, Bank of the Pumpkin, etc. That is what they do. It is a hilly place, located between the Brandywine and the Christina Rivers, and has river walks along both that are pleasant. The Brandywine is a cheerful stream in a gorge. The Christina is tidal, with seafowl and rusting railroads.

It looks like Baltimore often, with small rowhouses on straight streets. We have rowhouses in Philadelphia of all kinds, but when they’re on straight streets they tend to be impressive, if they’re on narrow streets they are quaint, and if they’re on windy streets they are jumbly. Wilmington has nice little rowhouses and then the hood rowhouses, from what I can tell. The hood is downhill from downtown—one of the hoods at least. I don’t mind driving through the hood since it reminds me of the third world, so it is familiar, and I have an old car, so I fit in. Beside rowhouses they do pizza and fried chicken in Wilmington, and I saw three yellow and green Jamaican restaurants.

We walked: that’s what we do. It’s a good place for walking and it was a good day. We walked for an hour and a half before lunch and an hour and a half after lunch. Walking in a place you’ve never been to before is my idea of traveling, as long as the place has things to notice you are not sorry to be noticing. I even walk in suburban settings, but prefer the city. In Wilmington we got all city. It was great. For such a small place, it was very, very great.

They do seafood in Wilmington. I guess the closer you get to the coast the more they start using seafood. That’s the rule. We did not go with the seafood, however. We went with the $3 hamburgers and $3 fries at one of these modern day food courts not consisting of restaurant chains and without an attached mall called a market: such as the North Market in Columbus or the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. This one was considerably smaller than either, but had more available seating. The pizza place and the steak shop were separate, which you’d never see in Philadelphia. They had a generic burrito place too, which I’ve never seen before. It was very unusual for me. I think they’re really trying to push that waterfront walk, for health and restaurants.

Returning to the hamburgers, they had a guy dressed as a chef doing most of the honors and they were clearly not used to handling volume. (Look, I know about volume; I worked at MacDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—these places do volume; these guys did not know how to handle volume, believe me.) But they knew the importance of the pickle, and that says a lot. These were no thin-sliced rounds, but over a quarter of an inch thick. Very impressive. Impractical on a hamburger, but still, the principle of the thing is right. You take it out, you eat it, it is good. Very good. It was the best pickle I’ve had since I don’t know when. Most restaurants neglect the importance of the pickle, but this nameless place somewhere near the train station in Wilmington does not neglect it. It was a fine pickle. It did not taste like the things you get in a jar at the grocery store. It did not taste like the thing that comes on your plate beside your fries at most restaurants. It tasted like neither of these standard flavors of pickle you get in the USA always and everywhere. It tasted like a really good pickle, and it was a testimony to the enduring importance of the pickle. Proper pickles, even if only a slice of one, are key. Everything else followed from that, so it is a good place.

Tomorrow we are probably going to try NYC, having done Wilmington. I hope those guys out there have places where you can get a good pickle. The importance of the pickle has come home to me like never before, and all because I went to Wilmington Delaware. I am very glad I went. I thought it was a great place. Very.

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