So, just what is it that so entices us about good food, good drinks, and good times with good friends? I suppose it’s a culmination of things; some more sentimental, like memories of family dinners or the certain way your great-grandma prepared her meatballs. Perhaps others more self-indulgent, like a good stiff drink to ease the chaos of every day life or to avoid delving into deeper matters of the heart. Or–maybe–it’s just present-day comfort, a big bowl of mac and cheese to process the busy weeks ahead, the 9 to 5′s, the pleasure of fleeting weekends. Beyond our primal instinct to put food in our stomachs; food is a beautiful thing.
All I know is that food–a good meal–is our home away from home. From the times of New Amsterdam and Old Gotham to current day N-Y-C, one thing has remained consistent. Here in New York City, many of us are far, far away from where we began our journey; some from Jakarta, Guangzhou or Ercolano, Stockholm or Conakry. Others, like myself, from just a quick train-ride’s away. Remarkably, we all bring the recipes and meals and flavors of our homes, our families, our cultures and traditions right here to this very place. We live in a major gathering point, a cultural hub. Queens is the most diverse place on the planet; every country is represented here in New York. At a time where differences are so prevalent–no matter where we are, no matter who we are or what we believe–at the end of the day, we all end up in the same place…at our table. We all end up sitting around a meal or whatever we can manage with our family, our friends, our roommates or loved ones.
So I suppose it’s food and cooking that can remind us of the common ground we can all stand on, of what’s ultimately most important to each and every one of us. It’s not just about the food, but it’s what the food stands for; it’s what happens while we cook or eat. It’s when we talk about our day, it’s when we catch up with those we have not seen in a while, its how we celebrate any number of milestones or just the start of one more weekend. That… and it tastes so damn good.
“Food is the great human universal. Nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes, the saying goes. It should really be death and food. Plenty of people avoid taxes (not earning money is one way, but certainly not the only one). Some live without sex, that other fact of life. But there is no getting beyond food, which is a fuel, a habit, a higher pleasure, and a base need, the thing that gives pattern to our days or that gnaws us with its lack. We all eat.” – Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork.
So, what the hell? Here we all are in New York, just trying to make it. I’m not sure when, but at some point, just trying to make it turned into just trying to eat. In a city that’s on the upswing and in the midst of a phenomenon absorbed in status and class, local and organic (are we not the same crowd that used to stuff our face with Gushers and Kool Aid?), us little guys are getting forgotten about pretty damn quickly. I sure can’t afford any remoulades or bottles of barolo on the terrace, but please don’t subject a sister to sub-par pizza and Budweiser, the King of Terrible Domestic Beers. Fret not. Not all restaurants are expensive, but in a city where you couldn’t try them all in a lifetime, it certainly takes a little digging. Another big money saver is cooking at home, but you need not be a trained Chef to create something that you actually want… no, love to eat. All it takes is a pot, a pan, and a little bit of focus, and you’ll have more money for… whatever it is that you do… in no time. Enjoy!