One of the saddest things I heard in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 was told to me by the wife of an acquaintance. She said, with a smug sense of pride, that her family — in an act of patriotic protest to the recent attacks on America — would be ending their long-standing Thanksgiving tradition of serving assorted meat and vegetable pies from Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It was a heartbreaking statement of staggering stupidity, offensive on so many levels, not the least of which was personal.
I lived next door to Damascus Bakery in my first Brooklyn apartment. This was before Barney’s, Urban Outfitters and Trader Joe’s arrived. It was when that section of Atlantic Avenue was overwhelmingly Arabic, and I frequented the eateries as often as I could, feasting on delicacies from the Middle East, learning some geography and culture and a little Arabic along the way. And, of course, I met many wonderful people, including the family who owned and operated Damascus Bakery.