I've just come to New York for my first trip to USA. After a week exploring this great city, I think I'm ready to give you my initial thoughts on how I see eating is different between UK and USA (specifically NYC).
The American Diner
Everyone goes out for breakfast here. So on Saturday we did too. The menu was 5 pages long, with the quintessential pancake, bacon and maple syrup option (which I went for), to the egg and French Fries choice (yes at 10am) to the protein fix of a 6 egg white omelette. The coffee was good and refilled continuously, which helped the experience without doubt. The 100 seat diner was full forever and the waitresses were just as you see on the telly. Yes I'll be back; not for the delicious pancakes, but for the egg white omelette. I'm visualising the chef cracking open the eggs as I write!
Mac and Cheese
We usually eat mac and cheese as an occasional cheap store cupboard meal (by that I mean all the ingredients are already in our food cupboards, so no cost involved). However here I see mac and cheese is everywhere. You can find it in dried packet form, frozen, fresh, fancy restaurant side dish form to diner main meal, supper dish and even breakfast I'm told. The great thing with all these choices, is that you can tuck into a healthier version if you want.
From my first observations, I see three levels of food stores here in NYC.
- The corner deli, that opens early, closes late. It is not like a deli at home, which would describe artisan food outlets, but more like convenience stores that sell everything from a needle to a loaf of bread.
- The artisan (and super expensive) supermarkets, like Whole Foods and Dean & DeLuca. I could spend all day in a store like this, reading labels, sampling food and people watching.
- Lastly stores like Costco and Walmart where customers buy food in bulk and everything else can be bought in one place.
Big tip to myself, wherever I shop this week - don't forget the grocery list!
Eating In and Food Deliveries
Eating In refers to the time you're not eating out. Eating out is not a treat here; it's for everyone most of the time. When you do eat in, you normally get take out (it's confusing), where automated meal delivery services like Seamless.com ensure that you never have to think about actually cooking. We are a long way from getting pizza delivered back home (thank goodness, it's too easy and took too long to be delivered).
As a result, cooking at home is a real special treat and I love the grocery store delivery from Fresh Direct, which arrived last week. Ordering was easy and the ingredients delivered in brown boxes with water dripping from the freshest healthiest looking herbs which couldn't have picked fresher to the organic fresh turkey which was cooked on Thanksgiving day. A great service altogether. Looking forward to getting cooking.
I've already tried a Vietnamese BBQ, which was interesting. This is really healthy food, mostly with vegetables, spicy pork and boneless ribs cooked on flames in the middle of the table. It's a little too dramatic for me, but it was delicious. I've also tried the best Italian Pizzeria in NYC (their claim, not mine), Lombardis and artisan salad bars, with delicious salads from pickled artichokes (who'd make this at home) to 50 different grains. And finally my favourite - an American fresh food restaurant preparing dishes using, organic, hormone free, vegan, farm fresh foods. I'll be back.
New York City has a lots of different food experiences and cooking at home is low on the list for many. But if truth be told, when all is said and done, I can't wait to get back to my temporary Brooklyn home and cook my next meal using the best fresh ingredients.