- Last Updated: 11:31 PM, May 3, 2012
- Posted: 11:24 PM, May 3, 2012
I don’t live in remote foreign far-off places like Portland or, maybe, Yuma which feature strange offerings like air or shrubs. As one of 8 million crammed into our universe’s capital, I only know about our small, 13.4-mile-long island.
I know we have several things those little lost hamlets don’t have: The UN, the Yankees, the Met, MoMA, Lincoln Center, Bronx Zoo, Central Park, Fifth Avenue, National History Museum, St. Pat’s, Diamond District, Fashion Center, Rock Center, Empire State Building, Carnegie Hall, Bloom-berg, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy.
Also restaurants on wheels. Carts. Food carts. Park Avenue’s where apartments go for Monopoly money. Tens of millions. Monthly maintenance can be in the semi-classy neighborhood of $20,000 a month. And on coveted corners? The aroma that wafts up to a penthouse? Hot dogs. With sauerkraut.
Fifth Avenue. Steps from the classiest department stores in captivity are pushcarts. Peddlers. Selling what? Knockoff Chanels that almost look like the stuff they’re hustling inside. Cheapos. So junky that, rub your hand over the C label, you could get a rash.
In this town hugging is suddenly not allowed. Also smoking not allowed. Spitting not allowed. Boomboxes not allowed. Double parking not allowed. Salt not allowed. Sugar not allowed. Funding Liu for mayor not allowed. Screwing the IRS definitely frowned upon. And it’s fie on selling ice cream to hot, perspiring children in urban neighborhoods because whoknows-why.
It’s fights against horse carriages. Arguments over nightclubs in neighborhoods. Misery due to the school system. Angst about the Second Avenue nonexistent subway. Life in prison if you open a bank account without signing a privacy act. But street crapola is permissible. Why? Hey, we’re New York. We got standards.
Expensive restaurants with C, D, and X ratings are boarded up. But a roach coach which pumps great morning coffee plus year-old sticky buns flourishes. They have awnings to shield from the sun and boxes to sit on. Even neon signs. So jazzy-looking that the only way these curb vendors can rumble along the street is with a parade permit.
Professional cooks on TV operate eateries that are high-class but can run out of your favorite tuna tartar first course or their maitre d’ can sadly apologize with: “Sorry, we’re all out of Chilean sea bass.” But there’s nothing those pushcarts don’t stock. The only thing they run out of is change for a $10 bill.
Falafel? Hummus? Gyros? Roasted chestnuts? Sweet potatoes? Water? Soda? Pork loin with Brussels sprouts, a sprig of parsley and a side order of fries? No problem. Request egg foo yung and gnarled fingers wriggle down in some unknown abyss. They got it. Stiff pretzels baked in the year of Tutankhamen’s birth? They got it. No worries about cleanliness, ratings, servers’ pool tips, management stealing ideas from other dining establishments.
No fretting is it healthy, clean, contaminated, mouse-ridden. Nothing. A tip to any first-timer out-of-towner before dining al fresco: Carry your roadside takeout package direct to the emergency room of Mount Sinai to avoid the trip.
Carol Alt’s new book is “Easy, Sexy, Raw: 130 Raw Food Recipes, Tools, and Tips To Make You Feel Gorgeous and Satisfied.” Like an entire page on quinoa and pesto-stuffed tomatoes. Another page on pineapple salsa. Maybe not exactly what you’ll grab for a quickie snack sitting at the computer . . . but . . . listen . . . Frank Pellegrino Jr.’s newie is “Rao’s on the Grill: Perfectly Simple Italian Recipes From My Family to Yours.” Like step-by-step how to fast grab a spatula, measuring cup, extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of cumin to throw together veal modenese alla griglia one-two-three when you’re hungry in a hurry.
Listen, halal lamb on pita bread accompanied by wilted lettuce, yellow rice over it and drowned in hot red sauce? Heaven. A fat-laden, calorie-laden, sodium-laden, vitamin-deficient, greasy garlicky kosher-style artery-clogging hot frank on a cold semi-stale bun squished with something they call mustard? Oh, please. Three-star Michelin chefs can’t compete. So delicious it might be Espada’s last meal. About the curried goat I’m not 100 percent sure, but we’re talking kebabs, Caribbean jerk chicken, tortillas, tacos, tamales, burgers, pizzas topped off with flavored ices. Yummy. Trust mother, kiddies, you can take your filet of sole and shove it.
But New Yorkers are sensible. After a meal like that, we do the only intelligent thing. Wash it down with a decaf latte flavored with Sweet’n Low and a dash of skim milk.
Eventually outdoor vendors will get a visit from NYC hot shots. City Hall’s fiat will decree they must go healthy because too many of those meals and our citizens will need to let out the forks. They’ll be ordered to serve only menus guaranteeing that everything comes from a blender. No problem. Sidewalk sellers are flexible. For $1.25 you’ll be able to drink two chickens and a pot roast.
America. The land where half our income goes to buy food and the other half to lose weight.Follow @PageSix