A sandbar, Lebanese food, and psychiatry books

I’m not going to lie, this has been a pretty incredible weekend.

Yesterday we decided to wake up early and head out to a sandbar that we’ve wanted to play at for many months. We originally were going to take the kayak, but I have been struggling with serious knee pain for a couple days (getting older sucks) and did not think I could pull it off. So we left the kayak at home and just took our beach mats, an umbrella, and some books. And Sherlock. We weren’t going to take Sherlock, but he gave us such an unbelievably pathetic guilt trip on our way out the door that we packed him up too. He loved being there and made a lot of new puppy friends.

Our daughter also had lots of kids to play with in the naturally protected shallow water and tide pools. It was so hot (heat index well above 100 degrees) that the water felt like a giant bathtub.

The sandbar turned out to be one enormous party. Boats had lined up along the edge blasting festive music, people were out on kayaks and paddle board armadas, folks had set up tents on the sandbar itself (at least until the tide came in, and they had to work together to haul them back to shore). There was a colossal group of black fishermen out there who were all wearing shirts that read “Bros with Poles.” (Our daughter spent about half an hour hanging out with them and said they were exactly as awesome as you’d imagine. She said they were catching flounder.)

I started Pierre Jarawan’s novel, The Storyteller. It’s about a man who leaves Germany for his childhood home of Beirut in search of his missing father and is set against the backdrop of Lebanon’s brutal civil war. Rodney didn’t know what I was reading, so I found it an obvious sign when he suggested that we drive up to Jacksonville for dinner at our favorite Lebanese restaurant and go to the Chamblin Bookmine (a used bookstore in Jacksonville that has over 4 million books in inventory). Longtime readers will remember the restaurant as the place where I paid our eight-year-old daughter $20 to eat veal brains (or “cow memories,” as she put it).

Well, we did make it up there – and during an off hour, thank goodness – so we didn’t have to wait for a table. We ordered quite a spread. I love going there for their arak cocktails, which include a Levantine anise liqueur very similar (in both taste and and strength) to absinthe.

They made us this delightful dessert – I wish I could explain what it was, but it’s not on the menu. It seemed like some kind of clotted cream and spun sugar, I think. If anyone out there knows what this is, please let me know.

There is a massive Middle Eastern population in Jacksonville, and – contrary to what you might assume – it goes back across centuries. There is a Lebanese market in the middle of all of these restaurants that we also frequent, where you can get all kinds of Turkish delights and foods. Our new favorite snack is Fat Cat “Purry Purry” sauce and baba ghanoush that we get at the Lebanese market. Fat Cat is actually a Florida-produced brand of peri-peri sauce, which is a traditional mix of peppers that is popular in Africa. As we have a lot of folks from the Caribbean here, peri-peri is easy to find.

I was very disappointed to see that a Jewish restaurant that I have wanted to try forever went out of business during the coronavirus panic. It seems like every time we were up there was Shabbos and so it was closed. I’m so sad.

As you all know, I have been on a kick lately listening to Jordan Peterson’s Biblical Series podcasts. This has made me want to read a lot more books in psychology and psychiatry. Helpfully, Peterson has included a list of great books on his website. I have read a lot of the literature, philosophy, and religion books on his list, but I am embarrassed to say not many of the books in psychology and neuroscience. I picked up several of the books he recommended at the Bookmine.

This photo was taped to the side of one of the bookshelves in the psychology section of the store. It reminded me a lot of Hemingway’s office at his house in Key West.

And a note on the wall.

I have been working my way through this collection of essays lately (that is the pen name for Anthony Malcolm Daniels, a British psychiatrist who worked in slums and prisons). I am going to have a lot to say about this book at some point, but for now, let me just say that I highly, highly recommend reading it.

To be continued….

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