I stay in Harlem two or three or four days a week, taking the Metro North to Sarah Lawrence College where I teach writing, history and sometimes, participatory research. It has taken me six months to figure out a decent place to get a breakfast snack, or a carry out lunch or coffee. This week I decided to check out Q & N Foods, across the street from the near vertical metal stairs that rise from 125th Street to the elevated platform of the Harlem station.
It's important to have a local, a shop where the clerk knows how you like your coffee and that you prefer your sesame bagel with peanut butter (over just a touch of butter). It's what makes a place feel like a home. It's what makes writing possible.