Thursday, July 24, 2014

Food Desert: What it Looks Like From the Inside

Location: New Haven, Connecticut- Union Train Station
Time: Past Lunch
Food options:

Layover Time: 1.5hrs

Outside the first thing I saw was this:
I didn’t cross the street to investigate.

All the surrounding buildings were:
Housing projects

I asked a parking garage attendant for his recommendation and he said, “There’s a Dunkin Donuts in the station.

“How about not in the station?” I said.

“Well, I don’t ever really leave the booth.” he said.  “I get 30 minutes.

We’ll call this guy, Bobby.  

Bobby was round enough to fill up the whole parking attendant booth and I felt angry for him.

BOBBY has 30 minutes for lunch, PEOPLE, and all he has to choose from is DUNKIN DONUTS and SBARRO.  He fills out the entire attendant booth.  WTF!
I had stranded myself in a full-on food desert.  There wasn’t even a dirty window Chinese food place around.  There had to be something missing.

The United States Department of Agriculture says a food desert is a low-income area with low access to healthy affordable food.  

But I say, it’s a ten-minute walking radius from anywhere.  Who typically walks more than ten minutes to get something to eat?

Just to see how pissed I should be for Bobby and all those people in that neighborhood, I started walking.  I passed this:
And this:

The neighborhood was swarming with police.

So moments later I bumped into this tall drink of water.


He directed me to downtown New Haven where I was met with a surprise:



A sign confirming ethnic food as our salvation from the “American Diet.” But it was closed.

I ended up in a place that looked like this:

that served stuff like this:


The whole round trip clocked in at about 45minutes. Fifteen minutes longer than Bobby’s break allowed, but I don’t think the extra few minutes was the problem.  Do you?

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Dairy Queen is Better than Yours

Here I go defending another chain restaurant.  But who can truly deny the value of a Dairy Queen Blizzard? It embodies everything we as Americans hold dear: abundace, choice and oreo cookies. Spain has Iberico ham and we have the DQ.
My Dairy Queen is the best because located on the town line of Brockton and Avon Massachusetts, it stands as a beacon of racial, socioeconomic, and cultural 
togetherness.  Brazil has feijoada and we have the DQ.
This Dairy Queen is not your soulless food court variety.  Local rumor suggests the owner signed on with the franchise so early in the game, that he's no longer required to purchase product from "the head office." I don't know where he gets his primo goods, but watching this guy expertly pour red dip  brings on the sweet taste of nostalgia and I don't even like red dip. Portugal has port and we have the DQ.

For me, a visit home to South Shore Massachusetts is not complete without a trip to the DQ where sprinkles are called jimmies, shakes are called frappes and there isn't any food because ice cream is what they do best.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

What Do Koreans Eat?: A Childhood Memory All Grown Up

A five-course meal inspired by a childhood in Korea provides insight into the desires of a Korean palate.

Jellyfish Ssam
Sesame leaf wrap, pickled jalapeno, mustard, garlic, sesame, jellyfish salad

Ssam means wrap and any leafy vegetable will do. Perilla, or wild sesame, is our leaf here.  It is furry on the tongue and tastes of licorice.  Jellyfish sound a bit adventurous, but they have no flavor.  In Asia they're prized for their chewy, toothsome texture.

Seaweed and Crab
Kelp noodle, radish, gochujang mayo, lemon, sesame

Gochujang, a fermented red pepper paste, is a pillar of Korean cuisine supplying spice, depth and a bright red color.  Kelp can easily be described as green and slimy.  This fast growing seaweed is used in soups and salads across Asia.  Perhaps you recognize it from your take-out miso soup.

Mung Bean Jelly
Bean sprouts, Sichuan peppercorn, chili oil, garlic, peanuts

Mung beans are the perfect summer food because they help expel heat from your body.  Check out my Time Out NewYork Article for other cooling foods.  The mung bean jelly in this dish has the cool texture of extra firm Jello.  Sichuan Peppercorns are hot literally and figuratively, so look forward to seeing them on a menu near you.  Be prepared, they leave a buzzing sensation on your lips and eat enough and you’ll be peppercorn drunk.

Duck and Green Curry
Udon, sugar snap peas, goose broth, shallot, lime

Duck is the trendy protein for U.S. chefs these days.  In this iteration it tasted like tender beef.
Udon is one of my favorite Japanese noodles.  It's hearty and has a chewy stick-to-your-bones texture.

Meatballs and Egg
Fermented black bean, pork, onion, cabbage, cucumber

Jjajangmyeon is the Korean name for this dish, but it is actually Chinese in origin and is popular in Japan as well.  Usually it's a sweet, umami-packed, black bean sauce fortified with ground meat, but Chef Sung created meatballs instead reminding us of the classic comfort food spaghetti and meatballs.  

Sugar Candy


We will call this street candy because it is made on the streets of Korea and is gobbled by children on their way home from school.

These dishes are not all strictly Korean, but that is the nature of cuisine.  It adapts and represents people and their environment at any given moment.  So what about you?  Have the flavors of Korea begun to enter your world?

This collection of Korean inspired delights is brought to you by: The Brooklyn Belly at The Southside Supper Club Brooklyn, NY

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FOOD IS ONE OF THE MOST VISCERAL ASPECTS OF A CULTURE; IT CAN BE EXPERIENCED WITH NO LANGUAGE SKILLS, NO GUIDE, AND MOST TIMES WITH VERY LITTLE MONEY.