Columbus searched for the New World.
Pizarro for El Dorado.
De Leon for the Fountain of Youth.
This morning, despite a steady onslaught of freezing rain, Uncle Slappy and I went out in search of chicken fat.
Chicken fat is used in cooking by probably a handful of Jews in Manhattan. The people who use it are dying out, as are the meals and the recipes they cook with it.
A similar feeling must be experienced by, say, native Americans, if they need wild acorns for cooking, or a yellow-throated wood thrush.
They're things you just can't find anymore.
Uncle Slappy fastened up his galoshes. He was like Mr. Antrobus in Wilder's "The Skin of Our Teeth." Despite all the evidence and science of global warming, Slappy was ready for the deep freeze. Maybe he sees Mastodons where I see the M15 bus.
I loaned him my ancient oilskin and foul-weather hat. These I bought 30 years ago and are more suited to a North Atlantic crossing than a short trip across town.
I buttoned up accordingly, with my second-string rain gear.
And we trudged through the downpour to Fairway. Fairway, thousands of square feet of almost everything imaginable. Literally scores of olive oils, coffees, cheeses, salamis and fruits and vegetables from every corner of the world.
But no chicken fat.
No hay graso de pollo.
Then to Park East, a small kosher emporium on Second Avenue.
There too the staff is Hispanic. Like the lederhosen-wearing Mexicans at the Old Heidelburg Schnitzel Restaurant down the block.
There too no hay graso de pollo.
Finally, a yarmulke wearing beard produced an eight-ounce container of the contraband from under the counter.
He handed it to me.
Uncle Slappy and I thanked him with the thanks of salvation.
I pulled a $20 from my slicker.
"No charge," he said, "And Happy Thanksgiving."