On April 27, 2010, I wrote Tired of Crumbs (see it here) about the plight of many street performers and other independent artists. However, for many other members of the animal kingdom, crumbs are more than a metaphor, and living off the discards of others is literally the means of survival. In a city with as large a population as New York, the amount of refuse disposed is enormous, affording life support for many.
A lover of Middle Eastern food, I was pleased to have the good fortune to run into Damascus Bakery while strolling through the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was Sunday, so the business operation was closed, however, just outside the factory, there were a large number of pigeons busy atop dumpsters covered with heavy tarps. They seemed particularly industrious and I had suspicions as to what was going on. Lifting up a corner of one tarp revealed exactly what I expected - the dumpster was entirely filled with pita bread, all polybagged, which I assume had been disposed of for a good reason.
The pigeons were undaunted by the tarp and had successfully pecked holes through it and the plastic bags holding the pita. Perhaps not as dramatic as the Hawk Fest I witnessed on my window ledge in 2007 (see Hawk Fest here), but nonetheless, this was a food fest.
Damascus Bakeries is a 3rd generation business, currently run by Edward Mafoud, grandson of Hassan Halaby, who started the business on Atlantic Avenue in 1930 and introduced Syrian bread, aka pita, to America. In addition to a variety of flavors and sizes of pita, the bakery also produces Lavash Wraps, Panini and Roll Ups. I hope to visit and tour their factory in the future.
In New York City there are many means of survival. At the corner of Gold and Water Streets in Brooklyn, for these pigeons, it's Pecking for Pita :)