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:

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.

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

Invite new flavors into your life. Click here to have Traveling Taste Buds delivered to your email forfree.

What It’s Like to Be a Food Writer: A Spilling of Guts

“Ohhh, a food writer. That sounds like an awesome job.”
Every time I hear this phrase I puke a little. 
It always comes from a well-meaning person at a cocktail party.  And I gag because I hate to break a well-meaning heart with the truth.

This career is a b*tch, and every food writer knows it.  For every Anthony Bourdain there are 10,000 people who’ve “tried” secret shopping convinced that a free $25 meal is worth four hours of writing about toilet paper quality and sticky floors.

If you think about it, what type of red-blooded American takes photos of her dinner until the eggs get cold and the sauce congeals?

Who the hell wants to secretly take review notes on a phone while friends get full and drunk around her?

Can I tell you the number of times I’ve eaten something disgusting right in front of the proud chef – chewing and chewing because my esophagus closes when I try to swallow?

I do this work because I moved to Tokyo at the age off twenty-one and learned something lost on many Americans: Good, groan-in-your-seat food, does not have to come from a drive-thru, does not have to make you fat and does not have to cost a fortune.

What kind of demon could keep this knowledge to herself?

I was raised Irish Catholic by-proxy in the suburbs of Boston.  I can’t shoulder that guilt.  Instead I bear the cross and send story ideas to the black holes of editors inboxes and consort with a flock of seagulls better known as publicists.

Trust me if I didn’t feel conscripted to spread the gospel, I would just skip all the “free” meals and go buy food like normal people.

So what about you?  Do you write about food? Why?

If you don’t write about food what are the glamorous things you envision food writers doing?

How to Reheat Pita Bread: Secrets from the Middle East (3-4min)

Pita is best from a bakery like this one in Haifa, Israel.

In the U.S. a place like that is hard to find, but with a few tricks supermarket pita can be turned into the next best thing.  

Here’s how:

Step 1

Place the pita over an open range flame at medium low heat.

Step 2
Wait for it to puff (approx. 45 seconds).

Step 3

Turn over and repeat.

Bonus Step
The first three steps come from my Palestinian friend Sabrina and her big family up in Yonkers, New York.  I’ve consumed many warm pitas with cheesy eggs and hummus at their kitchen table. 

It was my friend Dina, raised in UAE, who taught me how to take it to the next level.  Dina places her pita over the gas flame, just as Sabrina’s family does, but after it has puffed with hot air, she immediately returns it to the plastic bag it came from.

The pita steams with its own hot air inside the bag creating that fresh from the oven balance between toasted and chewy.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Warning Warning
Am I really advocating the use of plastic and all of its carcinogenetic evils?! 
Yes, I sort-of am.
Do not microwave your canned-soup-lunch in a Ziploc container everyday, but on the odd occasion that you want a perfect pita, I say spurge on a little plastic—At least until your neighborhood gets its own ancient oven.