Friday, January 07, 2005

frozen foodies

moving from new orleans to new york didn't make me too nervous. i had already left my home state of arkansas, where i knew all the backroads and which flowers bloom by the roadside in the summertime, so going from one city to the next didn't seem too crazy.

there were really only two things about the move to new york that frightened me. number one was the winter. i saw a few ice storms in arkansas, including one that sent a tree through my rooftop at home and scared my little sister to death. but it only snowed two or three times a year there. when it did come down, or even look like it might, school and work closed down immediately so everyone could rush to krogers to buy coke, water and enough chocolate chip cookies to last three years. then we all holed up until the winter weather warning passed, usually the next day. so when i moved from new orleans to new york last spring, i expected to freeze solid in my ikea loft bed by november. that hasn't been the case so far, although i am sleeping with two comforters and heavy socks.

my second concern about leaving the crescent city for the big apple was more serious. i worried that i would never find food as good as it can be in new orleans. would new yorkers really be able to sit down at a mess of crawfish, potatoes and abita beer and understand how close to heaven they really are? would they appreciate red beans and rice that have cooked ALL DAY LONG, preferrably on holly miller's stove? do they fry their chicken/fish/steak masquerading as chicken/shrimp/oysters and mars bars? the answer is no. i tried red beans and rice once up here, at jacques-imos in grand central station, nonetheless, and it was a sad day. they were dry, and sweet, and served with some funky spices that made me think of yellow rice. and almost every shrimp i've seen has been steamed WITH NO SHRIMP BOIL at all! just naked. they're big, but they have no flavor. you can't excuse the high cholesterol without the flavor, so i try to avoid them.

although new york doesn't serve the food i love from new orleans, it does have a few things working for it in the food department. in a word, pizza. there's a garage-door down the street from me that opens late and stays open late and serves the best square pizza on earth. it's sicilian pizza, which means it has crack in the sauce. i feel happy the second i take a bite, and i always think i can eat two pieces, something that cannot be done by humans less than 7' tall. even bad pizza up here is better than most i had down South.

i also discovered udon, a hot yummy noodle soup that usually comes in a vat with chicken, mushrooms, onions and other goodies. i love it, even though i never can finish the vat.

new york also has the market cornered on finger foods. i've been to 100 parties/pr events since i moved here, and you cannot find better muchies anywhere. i can't recognize a lot of it (except the tiny cheeseburgers) but the spreads run the gamut from sweet and chocolatey to salty and crunchy. three cheers for this city's party food.

and there's a lot more food to try. i'm just getting familiar with korean food, and there are more indian and middle eastern dishes than i ever knew. i am enjoying trying all these new things, but i'm also keeping an eye out for the food i loved at home. it may have to wait until i can go back and visit.

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