Monday, September 21, 2009

New York Bits and Bites: Street Food - A Narrative

I had heard so much about New York, thanks to the infectious influence of long hours of Bollywood movies and song sequences. During my first trip to this city, I must confess I was smitten by the beauty and totally bowled over! Enchanted was the word.

Sky-kissing tall skyscrapers, illuminated and gigantic Empire State, Statue of Liberty at Liberty Island, Ellis Island, busy volley of Subways arriving and departing, Yellow cabs, Streets and Avenues which forms a quintessential part of the unique geography, Chrysler building, Yankee stadium for sports aficionado, Broadway musical, Rockefeller centre, Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, MET Museum, MoMA Museum, Wall Street: Bull, Staten Island ferry. I have already become a big fan of this unique city. Its truly a melting pot offering something for everyone.

One of my Indian friend tells me that New York is like Mumbai. Well me thinks yes and no as well. Yes, because the city has same infectious energy, extremely raring-to-go spirit. No, because its still different in lot of ways. My friends had told me that NY is famous for its street food. I was on my pursuit of sampling some delicacies which I had heard were quite famous here. The first thing which catches your sight would be the numerous rickety Carts selling Sandwiches, Bagels, Hot Dogs, Pretzels, Falafels. Given a chance I would personally prefer eating from the Cart vendors as the food is economical, tasty and packs in flavours of NY city to the brim. My personal favorite would be these 4 goodies which I found irresistible. You just cannot seem to get enough of it.

1. Pretzel: A bread pastry which finds its roots in Germany; has the shape of a three looped knot resembles a braid knot as well. Its slightly salty but can keep you going without any hunger pangs for next couple of hours especially if you are hopping around the city and soaking in some local flavours, all for $2.50. (Thanks to the Cart owner for allowing me to picture the Pretzel).

2. Egg and Cheese Sandwich: My top favorite - Slice of fried eggs topped with a slice of cheese and some spices all packed in delicately grilled sandwich bread. I can have this tasty sandwich at any time of the day. The best ones I have tasted are available at Newark Penn Station Food kiosks. Since I picked my Sandwich from Au Bon Pain, a famous breakfast joint in NYC, they offered to prepare a butter-on-both-sides Bagel with stuffed Cheese and Eggs, well fried, all for $5.00, include some freshly brewed Latte with cream as well.

3. Cheese Cake: Supposedly NY is famous for this. Not a street food but can be found at prominent pastry shops in NY city. I sampled mine at Junior's near Times Square. The flavour was tangy, cheesy, creamy and out of the world. Most of the pastry shops have a Cheesecake to offer. The ones at Junior's have more than 3- plus varieties of these and high chances are, that you would go greedy with the delights; Think this was for around $5.00 a pastry (don't recall quite well, but was wuite affordable and worth every dime you spend).

4. Falafel Sandwiches: I loved the Falafel sandwich you get at Allan's near Broadway (quite close to the Wall Street Bull - on the same street). He customises your taste, spice. "Some more spice" I raved. I regret I could not get a picture nevertheless the taste is one of its kind and closest to the Middle-Eastern flavours of Falafel. The chickpea Pakoras were fried to perfection and nestled cosily in Pita Pockets with ample helpings of spicy sauce which was oraneg and red in color. All this for $4.00; Enjoy your hearty meal!

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