The Muhammad of Midtown

The indefatigable Taxi Gourmet recently reviewed Muhammad Rahman’s Kwik Meal #1, midtown Manhattan’s most viral food cart. I should know, as I used to go there back in the day when it was still an upstart, and before there were even two of them, and word was just beginning to spread across the borough. It still has the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever tasted, bar none. Then again, after six years in Rome, that’s not such a difficult accolade to aquire. 

Taxi tells the tale, as it was told by me:

It was actually a poem by Taxi Gourmet reader Marc Alan Di Martino that moved me to consummate my curiosity about Kwik Meal’s food:

“I was a regular at Muhammad Rahman’s Kwik Meal #1 cart, as were we all at the Gotham [Book Mart]…And one day Mr. Rahman — who was aware that I wrote poetry — asked me to write him something that would make people stop and eat. I declined. He insisted. I wrote, and he paid me in falafel sandwiches.”

I wrote about this here. It was Macy Halford at the New Yorker who “discovered” my little couplets and wrote them up in the New Yorker’s Book Bench column. Midtown is a great place to get noticed, even if you’re not a naked cowboy.

Here’s the poem, a stab at heroic light verse:

Of pleasures gastronomical I sing
Incomparable treasures; everything
Cooked to perfection by the expert hands
Striving to meet the customers’ demands.
A sweet aroma scents the afternoon
Air like some harbinger of happy June
When people hunger for the tastiest
Sandwich in Midtown: they have the best.

The really great part of the story, and the reason I had to get in touch with Ms. Halford, was that the poem (admittedly no great shakes) was attributed to a certain Thane Dimatims. Such blunders often inspire innovations, and in this case it became the stuff of poetry,or rather a long narrative poem which will be published to great acclaim a century or so after I am dead. “As it was, so it will be”, said the pope. Or was it Pope?

Next time you’re in midtown, tell Muhammad I sent you.

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